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Manasi Nandi

Career progression

1. Pharmacology BSc

2. Industrial Studentship

3. PhD

4. Postdoc research

5. Academia

Manasi is a university lecturer and academic researcher at King's College London.

What is your career pathway to date (including your education)?

BSc (Hons) (undergraduate 3+1 years)– Pharmacology; University College London

Industrial studentship (1 year): Glaxo Wellcome, Receptor Pharmacology Unit, working on the characterisation of oxytocin receptor antagonists for the treatment of pre-term labour.

PhD (graduate 4 yrs)– Vascular biology and Child Health; Institute of Child Health, Great Ormond Street Hospital (MRC Funded), researching the role of BH4/GCH1 in the regulation of nitric oxide in pulmonary hypertension of the newborn.

Post Docs (3+ 1.5 yrs) – Clinical Pharmacology, Division of Medicine (MRC Funded). Investigating regulation of blood pressure in sepsis.

Awarded BHF Intermediate Fellowship at same time as obtaining Lectureship in Integrative Pharmacology at King's College London.

Took post as lecturer, so had to reapply for fellowship funding as a project grant (awarded following year).

Continuation as an academic researcher and educator at King's College London.

Currently – Reader in Integrative Pharmacology

What do you do? What does a typical week look like to you?

There isn’t really a typical week in academia, which is probably one of the things that appeals to me about this job – no two days are the same.

The role is incredibly varied. During term time I’m usually busy writing lectures/assessments and then delivering teaching to undergraduates/graduates. There’s also a lot of administration, meetings and marking– which takes up a large amount of my time .I am also taking a lead role in diversity and inclusion and provide pastoral support for staff and students.

On the research side, unlike my PhD and post doc days when I was running around from lab to lab, I’m now mostly found in front of a computer. As an academic researcher you need to secure grant funding to pay for the staff, reagents, etc. and writing grants takes time and effort.

Once funded, I need to ensure that staff/students are fully trained, competent, understand the project and are working together as a team. Regular research meetings are essential and reports and papers must be written up and published.

As someone with in vivo expertise, I’ve also acted as an area expert for many of my colleagues, advising them on experimental design. It’s not uncommon for me to be asked to do some micro surgery or to demonstrate a technique to PhD students. I really enjoy this and it means I don’t get out of practice.

I’m currently working on an interdisciplinary project with mathematicians, bioengineers and clinicians – applying a new mathematical technique to extract more information from routine signals such as blood pressure. It’s been really enjoyable and I’ve learned a huge amount as I’ve had to leave my academic comfort zone. We’re now translating our findings to clinical data which is very exciting. I have a large collaborative network of industry, academic and clinical researchers and this means we are taking on new and exciting projects all the time. Through this project we’ve also had a number of displays at museums and other public events which have been throughly enjoyable. I always try and engage in outreach activities, interacting with school level students and giving them opportunities to work in my lab, whenever I get the chance.

What do you like and dislike the most about your current position?

I like the flexibility and variability of the role. I’m always taking on new projects and activities and meeting interesting people. I really enjoy the interactions with students and scientists in my sector. I currently have a healthy and happy work life balance and that’s important for me to be effective in my work.
Dislike: Probably all of the extra administrative workload -  like filling in costing forms for research grants, sorting out timetables for teaching and having piles of marking to get through when I have a lot on.

How do you see your career further progressing in the future?

At the moment, I really enjoy my role as an academic teacher and researcher and think I’d like to stay on as an academic for a good while yet. The first few years of a lectureship are tough, there is no instruction manual and you have to learn to take on lots of new responsibilities and roles. I really enjoy teaching and my workload is now manageable. My research has taken a shift from wet lab to more data analysis. This has meant I am now translating my work using clinical data and is something I find very rewarding.

What three pieces of advice would you give someone keen on developing a career in your area of work?

Curiosity –you need to be self-motivated and stimulated by the work you do, ask lots of questions

Comfort zone: Don’t get stuck in your comfort zone – take on new challenges and take advantage of new opportunities when they arise whether that’s presenting at a conference or taking on a new project/collaboration.

Communication – as a scientist you need to be able to effectively communicate your ideas and findings so take any opportunities to present your work and gain the confidence and competence in communicating your work.

Published: 25 Aug 2020 in Academic and NHS

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