The National Centre for Macromolecular Hydrodynamics
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MSc Placement Case Studies

To view work placement case studies, or details of work placement providers, just click on one of the links below:

If you are interested in finding out more about the placement opportunities on the MSc ABT course, please contact:


Ying Zang: MSc ABT 2007-2008

case_studies_ying_zangIndustrial Placement: Industrial Placement Structural Genomics Consortium Oxford

My placement was a good chance to join one of the best research institutions of Structural genomics. The working environment is the best I have experienced. The latest techniques in SGC enriched my research experience. All the staff are nice and friendly and offer help whenever I needed it. SGC has a very good academic atmosphere, there is seminar nearly every week and all the speakers are from the top institutions around the world, which is good for extending the vision of the current scientific research.

After my placement, I was employed as a research technician. My main job was to maintain the pipeline in the protein system, starting with high-throughput multi-constructs cloning to all the way end with a structure. Cloning work was the main duty for me. As I wanted to extend my experience and skills, I did lots of other experiments, like large-scale expression, purification, characterization, compounds screening and crystallization.

I think the ABT course is a really good connection to structural biology. The modules are really good organised, i.e. most of the basic lab techniques were included in BLT. This is really useful when you actually went into an industry or academic lab, especially if you did not have enough lab experience. And the some modules, like Structural Biology, Molecular Microbiology and Biotechnology, Drug delivery and Bioinformatics, cover most of the theoretic knowledge background and also some experimental skills. And the best part of this course is the placement, giving you a chance, which normally is not that easy, to get to join in some world-class institute like SGC. And that is a turning point in my career. And the teachers and staff in this course really help me a lot, not only on the study but also on the career development.

In 2009 I was offered a PhD with Cancer Research UK.


Asma Khurshid: MSc ABT 2007-2008

case_studies_asma_khurshidIndustrial Placement: Archimedes Pharmaceuticals Ltd

The idea to study in the UK was first to be most fascinating one, later joining the course it become one of the wonderful and unforgettable experiences of my life. MSc in Applied Biomolecular Technology is a multidimensional course provides deep insight covering major physical chemistry to modern molecular biology techniques. In the beginning everything seems to be difficult but due to friendly environment and great support from all of the staff members especially Prof Stephen Harding was hard to explain in words. He was so friendly and used to handle difficult and new topics such nicely as it were never been ever new for us. The comprehensive lectures with practical demonstration on various analytical techniques gave opportunity to absorb knowledge in a very efficient manner. Wide range of subjects in basic applied sciences field not only broadens the knowledge and skills but also provided broad choice of selecting Research projects.

Wide range of subjects offers me opportunity to select projects according to own choice and interest. Another interesting and valuable part of this course was comprehensive presentations conducted by Dr Cath Rees on different research papers which made a good habit of reading latest papers on newly updated techniques. Another feature of this course was weekly seminars which were presented by academica of highly ranked universities across UK who shared their valuable research and skills with students which not only extended our knowledge but also came up with new great ideas in ongoing research.

Syllabus of taught modules was designed according to student’s level and highly up to dated with newly design practicals that gave vast knowledge of latest technologies and research and provided opportunity to gain hands on experience.

The Industrial placement was great and the most interesting experience of the course. I did my placement at Archimedes pharmaceutical Ltd. It was so wonderful and exciting experience where I worked on Chitosan a marine polysaccharide as an application in the nasal drug delivery. This placement gave me the opportunity to learn and organized my theoretical and scientific work in a limited time along that knowledge from course modules gave me deep insight which provided me good grasp onto my project.

The placement gave me freedom of work where my supervisor allowed me to work with my own pace. My previous experiences in Pharmaceuticals Company along this course help me a lot and motivated me to explore opportunity for PhD in future.

Finally, I got an ORS award from the School of Pharmacy University of Nottingham for my PhD. My work involves Characterisation of the effect of adenosine analogues on protein synthesis and polyadenylation. By using different molecular biology techniques including microarrays assays and reporter assays I will elucidate the mechanism of action of existing cancer drugs and identify new ones. 


Parul Mehta and Radhika Mammen: MSc ABT 2006-2007

case_studies_parul_mehtaIndustrial Placement: Illumina, Cambridge

The MSc in Applied Biomolecular Technology is a confluence of distinct but interrelated disciplines of science which provide for an enhanced understanding of biological systems and their engineering. The exhaustive course structure makes its students competent to seek employment in a wide range of industries. The course has top class academic staff, who besides being involved in cutting edge research are extremely approachable and are ever willing to tackle any problem be it academic or personal. Although it is only a 1 year course we have forged invaluable friendships with fellow students from across the globe.

case_studies_radhika_mammenA unique feature of the course is the 3-month industrial placement which allowed us to combine our theoretical knowledge gained on the course with practical skills. Both of us did our three month industrial placement at Illumina (, a company developing state of the art sequencing technology. Our placement gaveus the priceless opportunity to learn a lot from the scientific expertise of our colleagues and also helped us both in earning our distinctions. The icing on the cake was that we were offered permanent jobs in the company and are now research associates with the “Cluster R&D” team. Our dissertation helped us gain a strong understanding of the overall process which has enabled us to make key contributions to the ongoing research work. We are actively involved in several projects related to error reduction, enzyme characterization and process robustness.

This course has greatly aided both our personality and career progression and we would definitely recommend it to all prospective students.


Calvin Tiengwe: MSc ABT 2005-2006

case_studies_calvin_tiengweIndustrial Placement: National Institute of Biological Standards and Control (NIBSC)

ABT is a multidisciplinary course covering major areas in the Biological Sciences (from Molecular Microbiology to Physical Biochemistry). It is an exceptional course with diversified training for students from different backgrounds of the sciences.  

The placement spawns much interdisciplinary research and hands-on experience, merging areas that would not normally be covered in most conventional MSc. courses. Everyone I spoke to in my batch was very satisfied with his/her placement; “it’s the best part of the course”.

I started a four-year PhD in “Molecular Functions in Disease” at the University of Glasgow in 2006. The PhD covers a wide range of subjects: Molecular and Cell Biology, Genetics, Infection Biology, Structural Biology and Chemical Synthesis.


Kaushik Sarkar: MSc ABT 2005-2006

case_studies_kaushik_sarkarIndustrial Placement: UCB Celltech, Slough

It gives me great pleasure to write about my experience during my summer Industrial placement which I carried out at UCB-Celltech, Slough, a leading biopharmaceutical company with its headquarters in Belgium.

Since my very first day as a student of M.Sc Applied Biomolecular Technology, I was fascinated by the idea of an Industrial experience. Though we can garner enough knowledge by reading books and journals, the practical knowledge gained while working in an industry leaves an indelible mark on ones career. Thus, since day one I was looking forward to it. 

My placement was at UCB-Celltech, which has excellence in antibody technology. The company has many branches all over the world and the one in Slough mainly deals with research and development in two main fields- inflammation and oncology. A major portion of the company’s work involves production, purification and characterisation of various NBEs and NCEs, which are directed towards treatment of various diseases.

My project was based in Protein chemistry department under Bioprocess Research and Development. Alison Turner, Senior scientist in Protein Chemistry supervised me all through my project, and she is a wonderful person to work with. She is very understanding and friendly person and helped me at every step during my project. 

The main aim of my project was to work with Dynamic light scattering (Zetasizer Nano ZS, Malvern Instruments), an instrument, company had recently purchased for protein characterisation. Since the instrument was fairly new in the company, it was my role to work out a proper methodology to work with that instrument and generate sensible data, followed by data analysis. The instrument was also to be compared with an older version of light scatterer (Dyna Pro, Protein Solution Inc). I worked with various antibody molecules and their fragments, working out their purity and measuring their hydrodynamic diameter. I also performed analysis under various conditions and scouted for the best measurement technique. The data generated were analysed and then made into proper representations, like graphs and slides.

The main attraction for working in any company is the reward of experience, of working in a real world situation. During my course of project I was taught to plan my own experiments, execute them and finally come out with some sensible data and methods. I also learnt proper data management and stringency that is required while documenting any experiments. Good documentation practice is an integral part of any pharmaceutical industry, or any industry that requires strict quality management, and thus it was a very important aspect that I learnt during my course of project. Some of the techniques that I frequently used were: Dynamic light scattering, HPLC and SDS-PAGE.

Overall, I would say that the whole industrial placement was a very enriching and joyous experience, where I got to meet different people, had a chance to work in an industrial set-up and above all learnt many valuable techniques in analytical sciences.  After my placement I was offered a position as a research scientist with UCB – Celltech. 


Dilan Fernando: MSc ABT 2005 - 2006

case_studies_dilan_fernandoIndustrial Placement: Glaxo Smith Kline

My placement was at GlaxoSmithKline Research and Development in Harlow (Gene Expression and Protein Biochemistry Dept). Working in one of the world’s foremost pharmaceutical companies was a tremendously rewarding experience. My supervisors were great and my colleagues very friendly and helpful. I contact them even now for references and help. The experience greatly helped me career-wise since I gained first-hand knowledge and experience on standards set by such firms. It also gives you quite a lot of confidence when working elsewhere.

The MSc itself is very broad-based and so one is equipped with the knowledge and technical skills to work or study in a range of different areas such as biotechnology, genetics, microbiology, immunology or pharmacy etc. This aspect of the course was particularly helpful both when I worked on a project at the Institute of Genetics at Nottingham University following my MSc and also when applying for PhDs. It certainly broadens your options.

My time in Sutton Bonington during the course was very pleasant. Prof. Harding and all of the teaching and administrative staff were extremely helpful and made me feel at home. There was never an instance where I was turned down when I encountered a problem. Even after I had completed my course, everyone was extremely helpful when I filed my PhD applications. I could honestly say that I couldn’t have done it without their help!

I started a DPhil/PhD at the University of Oxford in September 2007. I was awarded a fully-funded Departmental Studentship. My project in based on immunological pathways were I will be working to elucidate the function of certain molecules. The work is very interesting and is quite new. 


Mahesh Jayachander: MSc ABT 2005-2006

case_studies_mahesh_jayachanderIndustrial Placement: Avecia Biotechnology Limited

I started my Placement in May 2006 at Avecia Biotechnology Ltd, based in Billingham, North East of England. Avecia is a contract manufacturing company dealing with the production of Protein Therapeutics for pharmaceutuical customers. My work involved stability studies of proteins in vaccines using various techniques like ELISA, Gel Electrophoresis, Western Blot, Differential Scanning Calorimeter and Fluorescence Spectrometry. Apart from my projects I worked with the people from various departments like Process Science and Analytical Development and learnt many techniques like Circular Dichroism, HPLC and Particle Sizer. The other scientists were very friendly and supportive during my stay there. Many have become very good friends. On the whole the Placement was a life changing moment for me and after my MSc I was offered a full time permanent job at Avecia. 

I am presently working as a Research Scientist in the Process Science Department of Avecia. My work involves Downstream Processing of the Bacterial cultures, mainly harvesting, homogenisation, extraction and purification of the proteins using various chromatographic techniques, centrifugation, Homogeniser, Ultrafiltration unit etc. I am also involved in analysing the protein purity and concentration determination using HPLC, SDS-PAGE and Circular Dichroism. 

The MSc was an excellent moment and one of the best years in my life. The life at Nottingham University was a multi-cultural experience and I made some good friends. The Student services and the career development centre were extremely helpful in guiding me towards the right future. Applied Biomolecular Technology is an Excellent Course with well structured Modules. This course taught me an excellent Planning and organisational skills which is one of the key factors of my success. The lectures on Protein structure determination provided me with a strong base knowledge that was very helpful during my placement and even now. The technical writing activity is another important factor that is very helpful in writing and managing the lab works at present. The course as well as the University was an unforgettable experience in my career. 


Xiaoli Li: MSc ABT 2005-2006

case_studies_xiaoli_liIndustrial Placement: Glycomar, Scotland

I was an ABT course student in University of Nottingham during 2005-6. After a 3 month placement at Glycomar,  I am now a permanent employee of the same company, Glycomar Ltd.Xiaoli Li

GlycoMar is a marine biotechnology company based near Oban, Scotland. We exploit natural products in marine invertebrate glycobiology to advance human health.

We try to extract types of Glycosaminoglycans (GAG) from the marine farming waste, (such as fish waste and prawn waste) and analyse them to select the interesting compounds which can be used as new anti-inflammatory drug candidates.  My post title is “R&D Analyst”. I am in charge of all the analysis part, from all the chromatography separation and purification, HPLC size exclusion and ion exchange, NMR, and also some blood test like APTT.  However, we are still a small company, so I also have to do some work like GAG preparation, gel work and different kinds of assay, such as DNA or protein. In addition, some of the screening work also is a part of my responsibility.

The ABT course helped me quite a lot, especially on some theoretic ideas on structural biology, such as NMR.  Also the drug delivery and immunology course was quite helpful. These lectures gave me some basic knowledge before I joined the company. The biotech lab practice course also let me have some basic lab skills, such as gel work and cell culture.    


Ning Li: MSc ABT 2003-2004

case_studies_ning_liIndustrial Placement: Unilever

I did my industrial placement with Unilever and the aim was to clone some genes from tea into the heterologous expression system and try to analyse their function.  Unfortunately I cannot say too much more about the placement as it was confidential to Unilever! 

During the placement period, I really obtained some good basic research skills in a real project. The ABT course was helpful to me as it gave me lots of information about how and what a biological work should do and also it is the time that I made a decision of my interest of research.

Currently, I am doing a PhD with the project from and funded by Unilever. Most of the skills used in research are molecular biological techniques together with some bioinformatics knowledge that I am currently gaining experience in. 


Alison Thorpe: ABT 2003-2004

case_studies_alison_thorpeIndustrial Placement : Cambrex (Biocity, Nottingham)

I (centre of picture) worked at Cambrex based at BioCity in Nottingham for my industrial placement. My project was looking at the expression of acetate kinase and carbamate kinase in different species of mycoplasma; this was in order to validate the controls used in the Mycoplasma Detection Kit produced by Cambrex as this is a requirement for FDA regulation. Cambrex wished to acquire FDA regulation for their kit as they were looking into marketing it as a diagnostic kit for mycoplasma infection in cattle which causes mastitis. 

I really enjoyed the ABT course and made some good friends who I'm still in touch with, it was nice to meet people from so many different countries. The cross disciplinary nature of the course was one of its best features and the lectures from visiting speakers from both industry and other universities were very good. The industrial placement allowed me to gain confidence in managing my own research project and that has helped me considerably with my PhD.

I am currently studying towards a PhD part time whilst working as a research technician with the Tumour Immunology Group in the Division of Breast Surgery at University of Nottingham. My project title is "The Earlier Diagnosis of Breast Cancer with Autoantibodies to BRCA1 and BRCA2". 


Brian Holder: MSc ABT 2004-2005

case_studies_brian_holderIndustrial Placement: GSK Medicines and Research Centre

I did my industrial placement with an ICP-MS expert at GSK Medicines and Research Centre. Much of the research that I did is cutting edge (bond arranged in secrecy agreement) and therefore I cannot give you much of the details that surround this.   My dissertation was entitled: “Uses of Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS) as a highly versatile detection tool in the Pharmaceutical Industry”. 

In this study, I worked as a Research Assistant in the Analytical Biochemistry Group in drug development. I was successful in establishing the detection limits for a few monoclonal antibodies tagged to a specific trace element and I constructed a 3-D map showcasing a cluster analysis of the tagged antibodies in histopathological sections of mouse tissue. I operated the software diagnostics on advanced automated analytical technologies, including: ICP-MS, Laser Ablation (LA) and High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) to allow me to achieve this. I learnt how to detect reasonable quantities of a tagged antibody both in vivo and in vitro using LC-ICP-MS and LA-ICP-MS, respectively. I also attended scientific lectures, mainly on the Blood-Brain Barrier and lent my support and participation in project management. 

I earned an MSc in Applied Biomolecular Technology with Distinction. I was taught how to characterize biomolecular systems, using a whole range of bioanalytical techniques, such as the Analytical Ultracentrifuge which is useful in obtaining molecular weights of biomolecules. In addition, I was taught Structural Biology, Bioinformatics, Biomedical Macromolecules and was introduced to molecular modelling of protein structures. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience and was further stimulated by field visits to several scientific institutes e.g. the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, which houses a massive Diamond X-Ray Synchrotron facility. My industrial placement took centre stage of my studies and I absolutely enjoyed it. It made me want to make new strides towards attainment of a scientific career in drug development.  

I am currently enrolled at the Mississippi State University in the United States as a graduate student. I am hoping that over the duration of 4 years, I am able to attain a Ph.D. degree in Analytical Chemistry with a focus on NMR spectroscopy. My ultimate goal is to work in Research and Development in the Biopharmaceutical Industry. Presently, I am a Teaching Assistant and I teach 2 lab classes, whilst try to balance my course work. So far, it is very intense but I am learning a lot.   


Tim Eyes: MSc ABT 2003 - 2004

Industrial Placement – Orchid Cellmark, Oxford

I took my BSc in Biochemistry and Genetics at Nottingham University and the ABT course served to really focus my skills towards biomolecular science in industry.  I’m now working in the pharmaceutical industry and realize how relevant the course was and how well it was directed in an “applied” fashion. 

Obviously one of the most important and exciting parts of the ABT course is the industrial placement. Professor Harding managed to place me with Orchid Cellmark (Abingdon, Oxford) – a market leading DNA profiling company. Over the 3 months there I was able to apply and develop my skills in biotechnological techniques but also how to work effectively as part of a team and understand how a biotech company operates commercially.

After graduating in ABT, I was pretty much snapped up straight away by a biotech company here in Manchester– Neutec Pharma Ltd. Neutec was a small spinout company from the University of Manchester and chiefly operated from the infirmary there. Neutec are concerned with developing scFV (antibody fragments) against hospital “super-bugs” in combination therapy with antibiotics. Since I joined in 2004 the company has gone from strength to strength, expanding onto a new site and Neutec Pharma was acquired by Novartis in a £300 million pound deal in 2007. Neutec now operate under Novartis –and will continue to operate as a small business unit here in Manchester– and I have now been offered the chance to move to the US or Switzerland to pursue my biopharmaceutical career within Novartis.

Chiefly my day to day responsibilities at Neutec are managing the Biacore technology we use here. This allows us to screen new antibody/target interactions and test for immunogenicity toward our drugs in patients. But my tasks are not just limited to lab work alone – I am constantly involved in managing out-sourced projects and in the general day to day running of things here. I love it.

I think very highly of the ABT MSc course – and genuinely believe the career opportunities I have had would not have been open to me without the experience gained from it! 




National Centre for Macromolecular Hydrodynamics

School of Biosciences
The University of Nottingham
Sutton Bonington Campus
Loughborough, LE12 5RD

telephone: +44 (0)115 951 6148
fax: +44 (0)115 951 6142