In conversation with… our young bioanalysts
We sat down with Emma Webster, Paige Bellis and Jenny Baker from our bioanalytical team to discuss how they began their careers in drug development and what they enjoy most about their roles. Read on for a behind-the-scenes look into the life of a professional bioanalyst in a world-leading contract development and manufacturing organisation (CDMO).
• Emma Webster, bioanalyst, graduated with a BSc in Cellular and Molecular Biology and MRes in Medical Genetics at Newcastle University. During her undergraduate degree, Emma completed a year in industry at Covance Harrogate in the Dispensary Department. The experience ignited her enthusiasm for a career in the pharmaceutical industry, and after graduating, Emma joined the bioanalytical team at Arcinova.
• Paige Bellis, bioanalyst, graduated with a BSc in Biomedical Science from Northumbria University before training at Arcinova. After a few months spent working on a GC-MS project under the supervision of an experienced staff member, Paige was able to run the project single-handedly and subsequently moved straight onto a different project utilising LC-MS, a new technique.
• Jenny Baker, bioanalyst, studied Marine and Freshwater Biology at the University of Hull. After earning her BSc, she worked as a swimming teacher in Canada and France before joining Arcinova and utilising her skills in animal biologics. Jenny subsequently moved to Pirimal Healthcare, where she held the role of Quality Control Analyst in a stability laboratory. After finding that she missed the culture at Arcinova, Jenny returned in 2019 and currently continues her outstanding work in the bioanalytical team.
Q. What does your typical day look like?
Jenny Baker: My day begins with processing and documenting the data that was collected from the day before. The results from the data previously collected allow me to plan further analysis. I also perform a variety of extractions on both animal and human samples to ensure that the drugs specified by the client can be detected.
I use inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) and liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) to quantify extracted samples, and work both autonomously and in teams to mentor new staff members. Additionally, I am the Responsible Operator for all of our weighting equipment within the bioanalytical services laboratories. In this role, I perform maintenance, order engineers, schedule servicing and produce documents relating to the everyday use of the balances.
Paige Bellis: My day-to-day work depends on the project I am working on, and usually each day is also based on what results obtained the day before. Therefore, each day is always a little bit different. There is a lot of troubleshooting and problem solving involved in the everyday work of a bioanalyst, keeping things interesting!
Q. What aspect of your work excites you the most?
Emma Webster: I find it exciting when I am developing a new method, and waiting to see whether the method works!
Jenny Baker: I still enjoy the butterfly feeling of processing my data from the day before, especially when I am working on a particularly complex sensitive extraction method.
Paige Bellis: I love getting new projects to work on and investigating why the client is performing their clinical trial
Q. What do you enjoy most about working at Arcinova?
Emma Webster: I currently work on a project detecting copper isotopes by ICP-MS. I enjoy the challenge of using my knowledge of copper isotope detection to develop new mass spectrometry and extraction methods in different matrices. However, I also enjoy working on new projects that allow me to enhance my skillset by learning new extraction methods.
Jenny Baker: I enjoy stretching myself by working on new projects and developing new detection methods. I also specialise in the detection of copper isotopes using ICP-MS, where we are currently pushing the boundaries of the instrument’s detection limits. Our increasing knowledge and steady delivery of accurate new copper methods results in new projects from new clients, which gives me great satisfaction.
Q. How has Arcinova supported you in your career progression?
Emma Webster: During my time at Arcinova, I have been offered various opportunities to increase my skillset. My line manager and I set targets for the year during performance reviews. This allows me to discuss my goals and set meaningful targets for improvement within my role. There are also opportunities to undertake work that is usually the responsibility of other roles within the department, allowing me to gain experience in different aspects of bioanalysis. Additionally, our department manager is always open to providing additional training in areas where I feel I can improve, and I can request to attend conferences that I feel would benefit my knowledge.
Paige Bellis: Arcinova are very keen on giving staff hands-on experience and training for different analytical techniques. If you want to go on any training course related to the work you are doing, they are more than happy to send you. Also, management and current study directors are very supportive, and will give you the opportunity to learn from them by showing you what they do day-to-day.
Would you like to learn more about the exciting work undertaken by the BioA team at Arcinova? Follow the link to discover how our agile approach can fast forward drugs to market: here