Working in research and development
R&D scientists work within biotechnology and pharmaceutical firms.
Distinctions between the two types of firms have traditionally existed, but some think these are becoming less valid as they both work to develop the same kind of products; new drugs, animal health products, livestock feed supplements, vitamins, and a host of other goods.
Pharmaceutical companies typically employ "empirical screening" to develop drugs – they take natural compounds with a known physiological effect – like blood pressure – and screen for that effect.
Biotechnology uses "genetic engineering" technology in its research. Biotech was originally based around molecules, called monoclonal antibodies, which mimicked certain proteins or other molecules to target a specific cell area.
Biotechnology companies are seen as "young, entrepreneurial and emerging", that develop products in the areas of DNA, RNA, etc.
A "typical day" in this area of work may involve designing and conducting experiments, interpreting data, teaching and supervising otheres, project management, writing reports and scientific papers, and keeping up-to-date with new developments.
You would normally be working in a small team with other scientists.
Routes into the role
The vast majority of roles require you to have completed a PhD as this will develop your scientific knowledge as well as your laboratory research skills.
In addition to such technical scientific skills, recruiters often focus on the following transferable qualities:
- Written and verbal communication
- Conflict management and interpersonal
- Team work
- Analytical/data analysis
- Leadership and project management
- Flair for innovation
- Attention to detail while being able to see the larger picture
- Prepared to do repetitive tasks
- Able to work independently, with little supervision
- Presentation skills
- Computing skills
- Time management/organisation
Your veterinary training is advantageous in that it has given you a solid scientific foundation and it is evidence of your passion for wanting to improve the health of animals through evidence-based practice.
The research skills needed in R&D significantly surpass what you will have previously experienced, hence why it is a common requirement to have completed a PhD to go into a research and development role.