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Pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry

As a researcher working in industry you can play a key role in the discovery and delivery of new drugs. For example, Professor Sir James Black was a Nobel Prize-winning pharmacologist whose studies on adrenaline led him to develop the first beta-blocker drug for cardiovascular disease while he was working at ICI Pharmaceuticals. ​

There are many different types of roles that you could consider in industry. As an industry pharmacologist your role is likely to involve the characterisation of potential new drugs in different tissues and animal models. Your work will help to determine whether a potential treatment should be taken forward for development. It will also ensure that drug developers fully understand all effects of a drug before it is given to the first patient in a clinical trial.​

With experience, you may progress on to other types of roles in industry. These might include managing large programmes or departments, or working as an expert across multiple drug discovery projects. ​

Academic and Clinical Pharmacologists may also act in consultant roles for pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. Many are involved in translating fundamental research into new treatments and, as a result, help to found and/or run small-to-medium enterprises or biotechnology spin-out companies based on novel research. ​

Research in the pharmaceutical or biotechnology industry is a rewarding career, where you have a genuine opportunity to ensure that future generations no longer fear many of the debilitating diseases we face today. ​

Dr Dave Smith​

Dave-Smith-(1).jpgDave Smith is a Principal Scientist at AstraZeneca on the Cambridge Science Park with experience in both academia and industry. After several years in academia, he now leads part of AstraZeneca’s Open Innovation programme where the company shares sharing its compound screening collections to start new projects in drug discovery.​

“Although my original expertise was in the biochemistry and pharmacology of cardiovascular and metabolic targets, I now cover all disease areas of relevance to the company ; oncology, respiratory, neuroscience and cardiovascular/metabolism. If you are keen on pursuing a scientific career in the life sciences industry, studying for a PhD is a good way to get a grounding in research and a subject specialism  to build upon.”​


Read more about Dave’s career path.