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What next? Supporting you to take the next step in your career

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Published: 24 Nov 2020
By Sorrel Bunting

Are you coming to the end of your degree, or have you recently graduated and find yourself asking ‘what next?’

It is a complex question, and there isn’t just one right answer! It can be difficult to decide where you want to go in your career and to seek out opportunities for development and progression, especially with so many options open to you. That is why the British Pharmacological Society has put together new web pages and resources for those at different stages of their careers, to help answer questions about pharmacology and career opportunities available across the discipline. These pages can help you to make the most of each opportunity throughout your career by sharing first-hand career experiences and providing resources and advice on taking the next step.


Where can pharmacology take you?

Pharmacology training provides scientific, research and practical skills that can open doors to a range of research-related careers in both academia and industry. Your experience in pharmacology also provides you with important transferable skills – from expertise in problem solving, to project management and public speaking. These skills make pharmacologists attractive to a huge range of organisations offering diverse career opportunities. As well as careers in academia or industry, have you considered where else pharmacology could take you?

Below are just a few examples of the varied career opportunities open to you, shared by current and former pharmacologists. Read on to see how Joanna, Dave, Anna, Aisah and Christine have all used their pharmacological backgrounds to pursue their very different careers.

Picture2.jpg Joanna Owens is a freelance science writer, editor, and communications consultant running her own business. Following a Masters and PhD in pharmacology and toxicology, Joanna gained experience in publishing, working as a Senior editor at Nature Reviews Drug Discovery, and in science communication through different roles at Cancer Research UK. She then started her own science communications company.

I love the variety and flexibility of my job. You never know what fascinating project someone is going to approach you about next, and there is always something new to learn.


Dave 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.‚Äč

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.


Picture5.jpg Anna Zecharia is the Director of Policy and Public Affairs at the British Pharmacological Society.  Following her Pharmacology BSc and PhD, she pursued a career in Science Policy. In her current role with the Society, she is responsible for developing and directing the Society’s scientific strategy and campaigns and aligning priorities for pharmacology with wider sector priorities, including the education and training pipeline. She works closely with the Society’s Council, Directors, and external stakeholders.

The work is challenging, interesting and creative. I get to ask, and try to answer, some of the important questions that matter to the pharmacology community. I love working with, and learning from, our members.


Picture6.pngAisah Aubdool is a postdoctoral researcher at the William Harvey Research Institute, Queen Mary University of London.

I do not have a typical week but I spend most of my time at the bench side, with a mixture of in vitro and in vivo experiments. I like the flexibility of being an academic postdoc. I am determined to establish myself as an independent scientist but I am just at the start of my journey. I am looking forward to using my acquired skills to explore all sorts of avenues that are intellectually stimulating in an academic career.


Picture7.jpgChristine Edmead is a Senior Lecturer and Director of Studies at the University of Bath. She is responsible for teaching students at varying levels of their pharmacology and pharmacy courses, and strategically directing teaching programmes. She works closely with students and other academics to ensure students are progressing, learning, and developing the necessary skills for their future careers.

What I like best about my current role is interacting with students, engaging them in discussion and supporting their learning and deeper exploration of topics. There is no greater satisfaction than sparking their interest and motivation. Additionally, I like the variety of my role; no two days are the same.


Picture8.pngDaniel Marks is a clinical lecturer at University College London, and an experimental medicine physician at GlaxoSmithKline. His typical week is split between the design and delivery of first-time-in-human and early phase drug trials in immunoinflammatory diseases.

Working at the interface between clinical medicine and laboratory science is fascinating, and the ability to deliver new therapeutics for disease areas where there is substantial unmet need extremely rewarding. Developing new medicines is complex and challenging, and clinical pharmacologists are uniquely positioned to combine an understanding of patients with knowledge of chemistry and biology to produce novel, efficient and robust strategies for identifying new drug targets and indications, and turning molecules into therapeutics in the clinic, for patients.

You can find more information on the career paths other pharmacologists have followed on our new careers web pages. Take a look at the ‘Where can pharmacology take me?’ section to hear from others who have also shared their experiences.

How can I progress my chosen career?

Depending on the area you are interested in, there are a number of ways you can develop and progress. You might sign up for training, or take steps to build your networks, or make the most of opportunities to volunteer and gain relevant experience. If you are looking for guidance and support, go to our new careers pages, where you will find information on current jobs and opportunities, tips on building your networks, guidance on publishing in scientific journals, information on finding and applying for research funding and much, much more.

If you have ever asked yourself...

  • What role should I apply for next?

  • Should I keep studying?

  • When is the best time to think about my next steps?

  • How do I find support?

  • Is this role right for me?

...then these new web resources could help you answer these questions as your career progresses. Each section is tailored to a career stage, so you’ll find relevant information to help you tackle these questions and take your next step.

Also, be sure to explore all the support you are eligible for as a member of the Society, including access to Society journals, applying for awards and prizes, and applying for bursaries to support you in sharing your work.

And that’s not all!

Don’t forget that the online BPS Community is also open to you, to help you build your networks, hear about opportunities and also to ask questions of your fellow pharmacologists! Explore the forums today and ask a question, join a network and get to know the other members. There are many ways to progress your career, and the Society is here to support you every step of the way!


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Published: 24 Nov 2020
By Sorrel Bunting

About the author

Sorrel Bunting

Sorrel is the Engagement Manager at the British Pharmacological Society, having joined the team in 2019. Following the completion of her PhD in Cell Signalling and Cancer Cell Biology at King’s College London, Sorrel’s career has focussed on engaging diverse audiences with science and health. Her current role at the British Pharmacological Society encompasses both public engagement and membership engagement activities. You can get in touch with Sorrel by emailing

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