My master's placement is at The LDDN (Laboratory for Drug Discovery in Neurology); a laboratory affiliated with Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, U.S.
The work undertaken at the laboratory includes assay design/development, compound screening, high throughput screening and essentially medicinal chemistry to develop new drug candidates for clinical trials, to cure diseases such as Alzheimer's Disease, ALS, SMA, Charcot Marie Tooth and Parkinson's disease among a few.
My role as a research assistant involves making different analogs of compounds which are tested in vivo and in vitro in the hope to discover viable drugs to treat Alzheimer's disease in the future. My day to day routine involves a lot of organic chemistry and some analytical techniques to analyse the products I make.
In the short time I have been working here, I have learnt many different experimental techniques and tricks. I have learnt that some industrial techniques can be quite different to methods used in an undergraduate laboratory. I have also been trained to use different sets of machinery such as a microwave reactor and Liquid Chromatography Mass Spectrometer (LCMS) machine which are useful skills to have going into a career in research. The work is very challenging but an extremely fulfilling experience. As this is the line of research I hope to continue with going into my career, having this exposure to working in a research lab while still an undergraduate student is a golden opportunity.
Moving to a new country to work has been amazing but challenging, despite only being a couple of months into my placement. I have gained a lot of confidence by meeting new people, and a lot of independence by living alone and travelling to different cities. I went on a study abroad year between the second and third year of my degree, so I feel like that year set me up for this placement abroad. I spent one semester studying in Malaysia and one semester studying in Austria, so after spending a year studying across two different continents, a move to the U.S. felt like the right step forward and I haven’t regretted it so far.
The support from the staff at the University of Bradford and particularly from the School of Chemistry and Biosciences both in my year abroad and while I have been on placement, has been exceptional. They always stay in contact and have helped me whenever I have needed them, even with the time difference!