By Lauren Wheeler, Stage 3 Biomedical Sciences
During my placement, I worked at the GSK R&D site in Stevenage as a placement student within the SPMB department (Screening, Profiling and Mechanistic Biology). SPMB works on assay development, compound profiling and mechanism of action studies.
My role involved automating a 3D hepatotoxicity assay by creating a model to validate a fully integrated platform in order to move the manual assay onto the platform, as well as running a biweekly safety screening assay.
When starting my labwork, I was supervised but I was allowed to complete the work myself which I found very beneficial as it allowed me to make mistakes which I could learn from. I found myself able to start completing my own experiments independently a lot faster than I expected to. Everyone in the lab was also very helpful and was always willing to help or answer any questions when I got stuck.
During my time at GSK, I also got to take part in many other activities alongside my project work which allowed me to gain and improve skills, to network and improve relationships with other IPs (industrial placement students) as well as other GSK employees.
I became a committee member of both the Women’s Leadership Initiative (WLI) and the Stevenage hub committee. With both, I worked with other IPs and members of the committee to organise events such as International Women’s Day and the employee appreciation cookie post.
I was head of logistics for International Women’s Day in which I held key responsibilities in organising attendance numbers, booking catering, setting up market stalls with other employee resource groups at GSK and setting up of the lecture theatre for the event. The event included 2 talks and a panel which were all very insightful and turned out to be a great success with many attendees. I was also rewarded a recognition award (R&R) for my contribution.
I also worked with another IP to organise the employee appreciation cookie post in which GSK employees could donate £2 to save the children which would allow them to send a cookie along with a message to another GSK employee. These were delivered by hand by us, so it was really nice to see how happy and thankful people were when receiving a cookie.
I took part in the Tough Mudder challenge in May 2023 with around 30 other GSK employees in which we raised £350 each and completed a 15km run with 30 obstacles. This was a difficult challenge however we stuck together as a team throughout the course, and it felt like a big achievement once we completed it.
I was also a part of a netball team at GSK where we trained once a week on a Wednesday, it was a mixed team with members from across the GSK Stevenage site. We took part in a match against the Ware site, which we won as well as a charity tournament, all of which were great experiences to take part in.
During this year, I have also had the chance to take part in IP collaboration events. I attended an IP organised presentation session every 2 weeks in which IPs across different departments presented about their projects as well as discussing any issues they had been having. This was a good opportunity to network and learn more about other departments work.
We also had a lab tour exchange with the Ware site in which I helped in touring the IPs around the labs I worked in as well as going to the Ware site for a tour. It was insightful to see the later stages of the drug development process.
Overall, this placement year has been an invaluable experience in which I have been able to learn and experience far more than I could have expected when I first joined. I have gained many new skills and have really increased my confidence. I’d highly recommend a placement at GSK! Check out their Early Career talent site here for more information.