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An update from our Early Career Pharmacologists Advisory Group: Pharmacology 2021 events and new ear

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Published: 25 Aug 2021
By Niamh McKerr


Early career events at the Pharmacology 2021 conference

It is that time of the year again – the annual Pharmacology conference is fast-approaching. Amongst the many exciting sessions, the Early Career Pharmacologists Advisory Group (ECPAG) have organised a workshop on the topic of ‘science careers outside of academia and industry’, taking place online on 9 September at 2-4.15pm. This session will showcase some of the many non-academic and non-industrial career opportunities for Early Career Pharmacologists (ECPs). Attendees will hear from a fascinating line-up of speakers in a variety of career sectors, including education, business, law, charity, policy, and healthcare. The session will give ECPs insights into different career opportunities and advice on how to enter these alternative career paths. If you are considering next steps, be sure to attend. Find out more about the workshop.

Opportunities for early career members to get involved

At the end of 2021, the ECPAG will unfortunately have to say goodbye to its current Chair, Dr Aidan Seeley, and the current Early Career Pharmacologist Trustee, Dr Laura Ajram, as their terms come to an end. Both Aidan and Laura have been dedicated members of the Society and the ECPAG for many years. They have worked hard to develop and expand the ECPAG, increase the visibility of ECPs within the Society, and they even constructed long-term strategies for both the ECPAG (read the vision) and ECPs.

With the end of Aidan and Laura’s terms approaching, the Society has now opened applications for the Early Career Trustee and the ECPAG Chair roles. The roles are open to all ECPs and previous experience within Society groups is not essential. I caught up with Aidan and Laura to get some insight into what the roles involve, and to hear what advice they have for potential applicants. Read on to find out more.

Early Career Trustee:

See our website for the full advert, which contains more information about the role.

Deadline for applications: 24 September 2021

What does the role of Early Career Trustee involve?

Laura describes the role of Early Career Trustee as broad and varied. The responsibilities include attending Council meetings, participating in discussions with senior Society members, and ultimately, ensuring early career Society members are represented in decision-making. Laura has found that her experience as Trustee has improved her confidence, particularly when discussing topics she feels passionately about and her understanding of previously unfamiliar areas, such as the Society’s finances.

Laura feels that important qualities for this position are being open-minded, having confidence, and being passionate. Laura is looking forward to hearing fresh ideas from applicants, especially now, as the COVID-19 pandemic has created new challenges for early career researchers. Laura’s advice to new applicants is “Don’t be afraid to apply” as she has received tremendous support during this role.

ECPAG Chair:

See our website for the full advert, which contains more information about the role.

Deadline for applications: 29 October 2021

What does the role of the ECPAG Chair involve?

Aidan describes the role of the ECPAG Chair as a position that facilitates discussions and collaborations between the ECPAG and other Society committees, advisory groups and the wider membership. The ECPAG Chair works across various Society Committees and groups to improve issues experienced by early career pharmacologists. The ECPAG usually meet three to four times per year to generate ideas, give updates from other areas of the Society (as members often participate in other Society groups), and to create action plans.

During his time in the role, Aidan feels he has improved his delegation and time-management skills – which he feels has benefitted him in his career. Aidan feels some of the most important parts of this role, and other leadership roles, are generating ideas, giving and incorporating feedback, and being decisive on the best course of action. He has enjoyed learning and experiencing other areas during this role, such as policy, lobbying, publishing and gaining a more holistic view of pharmacology outside of the lab setting. Aidan hopes new applicants will be motivated by supporting ECPs and feels important qualities to this role are confidence, persistence and respecting others’ voices and opinions.

If you would like more information on either of these roles, you can watch the interview I conducted with Aidan and Laura.

Register for the Society’s upcoming early career workshops

The Society offers a range of expert-led training workshops throughout the year. Places are still available for registration on many upcoming workshops. If you would like to develop your knowledge on a specific subject and build points for Continuing Professional Development (CPD) accreditation, read on to find out more.

Pharmacokinetics and Pharmacodynamics

Date: 27-28 September 2021
Location: Liverpool, UK
Registration deadline: 20 September 2021 (early bird: expired)        
See here for the programme and registration fees for members and non-members
This two-day event of lectures and tutorials explores the fundamentals of pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics from concept and basic theory to data analysis, modelling, and simulation. Attendees will hear from experts on the subject from academic and industry backgrounds.                                                                       

Pharmacology and Drug Discovery

Date: 18 October 2021
Location: Virtual
Registration deadline: 18 October 2021 (early bird: 20 August 2021)
See here for the programme and registration fees for members and non-members
This workshop will take attendees on a journey through the drug discovery process and covers target identification and validation, small molecular screening, animal models and safety pharmacology. Other discussion topics will include approaches to reduce drug attrition rates during research and development stages and oncology targets.

AI and Computational Drug Discovery

Date: 21 October 2021
Location: Virtual
Registration deadline: 21 October 2021 (early bird: 22 August 2021)
See here for the programme and registration fees for members and non-members
Beginning at an introductory level to the subject, this workshop will explore predictive and generative machine learning approaches, primarily focusing on application. Attendees will hear from speakers from Exscientia, CRUK Beatson Institute, Bio-ascent and GSK and will participate in breakout sessions learning from real-life industry examples.

Experimental Medicine

Date: 10 November 2021
Location: Virtual
Registration deadline: 4 November 2021 (early bird: 15 September 2021)
See here for the programme and registration fees for members and non-members
This workshop focuses on early phase drug development and is relevant to physicians, postgraduate students and scientists based in academic, clinical, and industrial settings. This one-day event will guide attendees from the selection of candidate molecules to the progression to the beginning of Phase 3 clinical trials. Take the opportunity to speak with industry professionals from GSK, Anjin Preclinical Ltd and AstraZeneca.


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Published: 25 Aug 2021
By Niamh McKerr

About the author

Niamh McKerr 

Dr Niamh McKerr is a research assistant at the Patrick G Johnston Centre for Cancer Research (PGJCCR) at Queen’s University Belfast. Niamh's research is focused on the relevance and function of ion channels in cancer. Niamh completed her PhD in July 2021 at Queen’s with Professors Karen McCloskey and Ian Mills, which focused on voltage-gated calcium channels in prostate cancer. She became a Society member in 2017, has presented poster abstracts at Society conferences and is a previous member of the Early Career Pharmacologists Advisory Group (ECPAG).

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