Pharmacology student at University of Leeds

Josh Ridley

Where did you do your placement year & what was your job role?

I worked for AstraZeneca at their Alderley Park Site near Macclesfield, Cheshire. My routine ‘day job’ was to run a cell proliferation assay for an oncology project, testing the potency of hundreds of potential drugs on a fortnightly basis. My project over the course of the year was to evaluate the suitability of a piece of kit called Epic as an alternative Primary Screening Platform for ion channel targets.

Could you describe a typical day on your placement?

No. No day was the same as another as the variety of tasks my work required of me was vast.

What were your key responsibilities? How did these develop as your placement progressed?

Running a cell proliferation assay meant there was a team of several  scientists relying on my data to carry the project forward in the hope of eventually launching a new drug. For my project (Epic evaluation) I had to learn about and be trained to become self-reliant using a new, complex piece of equipment in a way it had scarcely been used before. This required substantial organisation as well as collaboration and communication with external companies and scientists.

What advice would you offer to other students considering doing a year in industry?

If you enjoy science you’ll enjoy a year in industry. Being students people don’t expect you to be an expert so you won’t be pressured into taking on a huge amount of responsibility.

What opportunities has your industrial placement opened up to you?

Making contacts and (hopefully) making a good impression will hopefully give me a good chance at getting on the graduate scheme. Also, having a much better understanding of the industry has also opened my eyes to just how vast the whole network is, and hence I’m certain I’ll apply for jobs I wouldn’t have otherwise known existed were I not to have done my placement.