Hello everyone, my name is Caroline, I am a BSc. Biomedical Sciences student. I have finally begun stage 2 of my course after spending a year in Newcastle adjusting to a new life, making new friends, and doing other bits and pieces. The seminars, lab practicals, and lectures have been ongoing for more than two months now.
So I figured it’d be a good time to evaluate the differences between stage 1 and stage 2.
FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies (FDB for short) is a global contract development and manufacturing organisation (CDMO) in the biopharmaceutical industry providing process development and manufacturing of biologics, cell and gene therapies and viral vaccines. This basically means that FDB are able to manufacture a broad range of therapeutic proteins for customers using mammalian, bacterial, viral and insect expression systems and can develop these expression systems to suit the needs of these target compounds.
I spent my placement year within the Process Development (PD) division, specifically the Mammalian Cell Culture (MCC) PD department. One of the tasks in my department was to carry out optimized fed-batch processes using bioreactors to grow cell lines, the cells then produce the target therapeutic protein which can then be purified and analysed by other departments within PD for customers.
Why did I want to do a placement?
When starting my degree I hadn’t thought about the possibility of doing a placement year. Then COVID hit and my degree was heavily impacted which meant I missed out on a lot of lab sessions and became disappointed with the lack of hands-on experience I was getting. I read the BNS placement blogs and was really impressed with what other students had got up to in previous years and how they were able to get some industry experience before graduating so I applied for three placements that appealed to me and managed to secure the second one which was FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies!
A Day in the life
I’ve found every day to be different so there wasn’t much of a typical day. However, we had a team meeting daily to discuss everyone’s tasks for the day which gave me the opportunity to offer my help and get involved in work.
If there was a bioreactor process ongoing, then my days would be much more regimented. The morning would begin with sampling several bioreactors growing Chinese Hamster Ovary (CHO) cells and measuring the metabolites, gases, osmolality and cell counts using high-tech analytical equipment. Sampling shows us how the culture is doing and if we need to alter any of the parameters to improve the process, any abnormal data would indicate possible contaminations which are serious during customer projects. These bioreactors would need feeding later in the day with supplements such as feeds, glutamine and glucose to maintain the cultures and ensure the best product titres.
Adapting to a new routine
I thought I would be able to adapt quickly to working on placement, but it was harder than I anticipated. The 9 to 5 is a big change when you are used to the flexible timetable of university and it can be hard to stay engaged at work if you are tired so making sure you get enough sleep is important. However, one huge benefit was that my weekends were totally free and I could do whatever I liked free of Uni work. I had a lot of training to ensure I was confident and competent in carrying out my tasks which can take some time to get used to and can be a lot of information to take in but it meant that I was comfortable undertaking tasks independently.
It’s not all lab work!
I found time outside of the lab to be just as fulfilling as time in the lab. I had not really thought before about the business side of science but it was interesting to see the relationships between employees and customers when I attended meetings for certain projects and how being able to present information and communicate effectively and professionally with customers is just as essential in an industry role as is being skilled in the lab.
I got to take on responsibilities outside of the lab that were essential to the running of my department, the biggest helping to implement a new electronic laboratory notebook system in which I inputted equipment as well as essential reagents used for media and feed preparations. I also got to train my colleagues how to use this system and software for their feed preps as I was the one of the first to use it. This allowed me to develop important skills outside of the lab which I can now demonstrate to future employers.
Would I recommend a placement?
Yes, I would absolutely recommend a placement for a lot of reasons, some of the main ones being:
You get more lab experience if you’re on a lab-based placement
You gain a lot of new skills you can demonstrate in the future and develop ones you already have
You can earn a good wage
You get to experience the science industry and see if it’s for you
Make friends/network with people in the industry find out what they did and if they enjoy what they do
In some cases, if you impress the company they will offer you a job if you come back after you have graduated
Scientists with disabilities face unique challenges but prejudice or discrimination does not stop them from pursuing scientific inquiry. Throughout history, many notable pioneers with disabilities blazed trails or became household names, bringing much-needed attention to the plight of people with disabilities.
Here are some renowned disabled scientists from various different time periods and fields.
Thomas Edison, born in 1847, started experiencing significant hearing loss in his early twenties. Despite this, Edison career in telecommunications was incredibly successful. Edison’s New Jersey lab was where the incandescent lightbulb, motion pictures, and other audio-visual innovations were born. Edison was awarded a staggering 1,093 patents before his passing in 1931.
Geerat Vermeij, an evolutionary biologist and Professor of Marine Ecology and Paleoecology, has been blind since he was young. When researching extinct molluscs and the predators that may have driven them to extinction, he relies on his sense of touch. He has had over 200 works published under his name to date, disproving the notion that those with disabilities such as blindness are unable to conduct scientific research.
Stephen Hawking was Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge, and was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis at the age of 21, yet went on to spend decades studying mathematics and physics. Hawking used a wheelchair, voice synthesizers, and other assistance to complete his work and communicate. Several domains have benefited enormously from Hawking’s contributions, including the study of cosmology, black holes and radiation. Prior to his passing in 2018, Hawking made extensive contributions to scientific literature, taught others, and received numerous awards.
My inspiration to serve as the founder and chairperson of the Father Ray Foundation Club at Ruamrudee International School in Bangkok I attribute to my experiences accompanying my mother (a professor of rehabilitation medicine) when seeing her patients. My interest in the works of scientists with disabilities also motivated me to attain this role.
People with disabilities (PWDs) often have a strong desire to overcome their health issues. They may feel as if they don’t do enough. They might not have cleaned the house as thoroughly as they would have liked to, or perhaps a flare-up prevented them from going to a party. In order to give oneself some sense of comfort and rest, one usually has to forgo events or let a few things slip. They can spend a significant amount of their lives attempting to appear normal. They might wish to be praised for engaging in activities that their healthier peers engage in on a regular basis.
“Don’t regard my accomplishments as extraordinary simply because I have a disability”, as I see in many articles about PWD. That is unquestionably true, and typically people who have disabilities don’t desire additional recognition, but by no means should we minimise their successes.
I highly admire everyone who has attempted and fought tirelessly to overcome their limitations, especially the great scientists with disabilities who have created advancements for the benefit of mankind. They motivate me to excel academically at a renowned university to learn about and gain medical experience. I aspire to be a good doctor who helps people with disabilities and can create medical advancements for the benefit of patients in the future.
Let’s honour the contributions made by scientists with disabilities throughout their lives. They are not only great scientists but also great inspirations.
Starting uni can be quite daunting, everything is new, and you don’t know what to expect. Although it is a fun adventure, there are times you might feel alone and quite lost. Having been through that I decided to compile a list of a few things I wish I knew in my first year.
I thought I would start with the usual ‘Everyone is on the same boat as you’ and ‘Everyone is looking to make friends.’
But while that is true and everyone truly is looking to make friends, I am sure it is something you have all heard about 500 times.
So instead the first piece of advice I will give you is:
Hi semua! Saya Harith, pelajar tahun satu jurusan Ijazah Sarjana Muda Sains Bioperubatan (Kepujian) dari Malaysia! Dalam blog ini, saya akan berkongsi pengalaman menjalani latihan industri selama 2 bulan semasa cuti musim panas di Institut Pembangunan Bioproduk (IBD), Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM), Johor, Malaysia.
Hi everyone! I’m Harith and I’m a first-year BSc (Hons) Biomedical Sciences student from Malaysia! In this blog post, I will share my 2-month internship experience during my summer break at the Institute of Bioproduct Development (IBD), Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM), Johor, Malaysia.
I would like to start this by emphasising that I was not paid by Newcastle University to shower them with compliments here. This is me genuinely sharing my experience of studying the BSc Biomedical Genetics (Hons) at Newcastle as an international student.
I chose Newcastle as it was the best affordable university/city to study medical genetics with the centre for life and northern genetics hub located there, and I had been fascinated by some of their published research. On my first visit to the city, I found Newcastle very green, friendly, and peaceful. I was pleasantly surprised by how nice ‘Geordies’ were, and I am proud to call myself an ‘honorary Geordie’ now as a graduate.
Looking for something to get involved in at Newcastle University? The NUPWC might be right up your street – get stronger, have fun, and meet like-minded people here at the club. Get to know the ins and outs of Newcastle University Powerlifting and Weightlifting club with Cara Walker, a weightlifter and welfare officer for NUPWC.
What is the weightlifting/powerlifting club?
In a nutshell, NUPWC is a friendly community of people interested in Powerlifting and Olympic Weightlifting – members’ abilities range from beginner to elite level. We train on Wednesday evenings (Powerlifting 5-7pm, Weightlifting 7-9pm), Saturday afternoons (11am-2pm), and Sunday evenings (4-7pm).
Picture this, it’s 6pm on a Thursday, you’re just back from a long day of lectures, you’re hangry as hell and those birds-eye potato waffles are calling your name…but trust me, there is a whole world of foods and flavours at your disposal if you just meal plan! As Iona Gannon, 2nd year nutrition student swears by, “an extra 30 minutes spent planning at the weekend will save you so much time and money, even just three speedy meals a week and you will thank yourself”. You never know, you might even be the next Gordan Ramsey, minus the raging temper hopefully!
I have been leading the Partners programme in the School of Biomedical Sciences (as it was then) since 2014 – and have enjoyed every moment.
In “normal times” it’s a great opportunity for students to come onto campus and experience university life in a “snapshot”. It’s my ideal that the experience will minimise fear of the unknown, seeing that Newcastle University’s School of Biomedical, Nutritional and Sport Sciences is a place where students can feel at home, see themselves thriving and anticipate a great 3 or 4 years ahead.
Obviously, last year and this year things have changed, and we’ve had to move the provision totally online, but hopefully there is still a chance to see what university life will be like, meet future colleagues in studies and members of staff, and get to know each other.