Lewis Ward case study

PhD Immunology 
Postdoctoral Research Fellow at AstraZeneca, Cambridge, UK

What are your main work activities in your current role?

It is very similar to academia, with a typical day seeing me attending meetings and seminars, reading papers, planning and performing experiments, analysing data, writing reports, and liaising with colleagues that can assist with my project. Time spent between the lab and office is roughly equivalent.

What route have you taken to reach your current role?

My undergraduate degree was in Biomedical Science, followed by an MRC funded PhD by Research in Immunology.

What do you find most enjoyable about your job?

I have an excellent work/life balance, as well as dedicated time to address my research. The labs are very organised; I can go in and have access to everything I need to perform experiments whilst minimising time spent on menial tasks. I also have access to both high-end equipment and a range of expertise from my colleagues. This collaborative approach allows me to do science in a week that would have previously taken me a month. I find that the combination of this efficiency and the positive attitude within the company makes AstraZeneca a great place to do research.

What do you find most challenging about your job?

The initial transfer to industry was slightly confusing going from a relatively small and specialist lab during my PhD into a large multinational and multidisciplinary organisation. This was reflected when trying to comprehend both the diversity of science I am exposed to at seminars and understanding how different teams within the company work together as part of the drug discovery process.

What advice would you give to a current Postgraduate Researcher interested in doing a postdoc in industry?

I’d recommend preparing your thesis so that you are ready to submit it shortly after finishing in the lab. The majority of postdoctoral positions at AstraZeneca are released early in the year and usually require you to have passed your viva before starting.

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