I analyse data collected on new medicines tested in clinical trials
Education:London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, University of Greenwich, St Olaves Grammar School, Langley Park School for Girls
Qualifications:MSc Medical Statistics, BSc Mathematics, Diploma in Industrial Studies, A level (Maths, Chemistry), AS level (Further maths, Music, Spanish), GCSEs (Maths, Statistics, English (Language & Lit), Double Science, Spanish, Textiles, Geography, Music)
Work History:PAREXEL, Numerus, Pfizer, McDonalds
PAREXEL International is a global provider of biopharmaceutical services. It conducts clinical trials on behalf of its pharmaceutical clients to expedite the drug approval process. It is the second largest clinical research organization in the world and has helped develop approximately 95% of the 200 top-selling biopharmaceuticals on the market today.
I am a statistician working in drug development.
Medical Statisticians are key players in a drug development project team within the research, development and manufacturing of a pharmaceutical product.
Statisticians are becoming highly sought in the pharmaceutical industry and increasingly play leading roles in areas such as pharmacology, health economics, real world evidence, personalised healthcare, manufacturing and marketing.
Statisticians are involved in a wide range of activities, including:
- Designing scientifically sound experiments or trials
- Defining data collection methods
- Determining the analysis methodology and requirements
- Performing data analysis
- Correct interpretation and decision making
- Present results to senior managers and government agencies around the world
Statisticians almost never work in isolation in the pharmaceutical industry. Project teams are made up of a variety of disciplines, to include doctors, scientists, operations managers, compliance and marketing teams.
My Typical Day
Working as part of a team to deliver a clinical trial for a client - fuelled by lots of cups of tea!
I have to commute from south-east to north-west London to get to my office, so my day normally starts with me watching catch up TV whilst on the train and tube.
Once I get into the office, first thing is always a cup of tea whilst I settle down to read my emails, check my diary for meetings and plan my day ahead.
At PAREXEL, we conduct clinical trials on behalf of our clients in order to advance the approval process for a range of new drugs. I’m currently the lead biostatistician on three clinical trials and which involves overseeing the biostatistics and programming activities on these studies, and I am responsible for the team of statisticians and statistical programmers that also work on any of my studies.
I spend most of my day attending meetings (both project management and technical) and communicating with my other team members and to our pharmaceutical clients. Religiously at 12 o’clock I go for lunch with my colleagues from the statistics department. We all work on different projects so enjoy using this time to catch up on how each others studies are going, and also any office gossip (mainly what happened in GBBO or strictly!).
As I work in a multifunctional team, not everyone is familiar with statistics, so part of my job is to coach others and to interpret the results of any statistical analyses in a way that is understandable to colleagues without any statistics knowledge. This can be in person, in a tele-conference, or via email – all requiring different skills in order to best communicate my message.
Sometimes as part of my role I will also have to do some computer programming to check the data or to help my team perform some of the more complex statistical analyses. I am also responsible for overseeing the quality of work produced by the programming team on my study so will sometimes do some programming to check the work they have done is correct and makes sense.
Come 5 o’clock I’m ready to head home to hit the gym and to watch some TV to switch off ready for a good nights sleep so I’m ready to tackle whatever exciting challenges may be in store for me at work the next day!
How I got into this job
I did a placement year in a pharmaceutical company
I chose to study Maths at university as I was good at it throughout school and was my best subject at A-level. I chose to do a BSc in Mathematics at the University of Greenwich. After completing my 2nd year I chose to take a year out and do a industry placement year – this was called doing a sandwich degree. I started applying for placements when I started my 2nd year, I was applying to placement year schemes at lots of different companies as I didn’t know what I wanted to do apart from wanting to do something different to the typical finance/ teaching route that was heavily promoted.
I got an interview with a pharmaceutical company, Pfizer, and was successful in getting a place on their placement scheme. Unfortunately shortly afterwards the office where I was to be based got closed and I was told they would no longer be able to take me. However, a few months later I was very lucky to find out some of the department I was to join had relocated and willing to take me for my placement year still. So I moved to Cambridge for a year and worked full-time as a placement student in their Clinical Pharmacology department.
I really enjoyed my year there and liked the fact I was using my Maths skills to help make a difference to patients lives. I asked my colleagues what I could do to get a job in the industry after I graduated and they advised that with my Maths degree I would make a good statistician and I would need to do an MSc in Statistics. So I returned to complete my final year of my BSc with the goal of getting an MSc place afterwards. I chose to do a MSc in Medical Statistics (to help me specialize for the industry) and was successful in gaining a place at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM).
After passing my MSc I got a job with a small statistics consulting company in the pharmaceutical industry after applying for the job on LinkedIn. I stayed there for 2 years, before moving to my current role as I wanted to reduce my commuting time to the office. I have been at PAREXEL for 2 years now working as a Biostatistician II. I also applied for my current role through a job advert I found on LinkedIn.
What's the best thing you've ever done in your career?
Got published in the Guardian Breaking into Tech supplement in 2017.
What advice would you give someone who wants to be in the same career as you?
Try it out - do a placement year at university
What do you see as your next step in your career?
Becoming a senior statistician with more responsibility
What other sorts of jobs can you do with your qualifications?
Working with data in other companies within healthcare industry
What's the best part of your current job?
Helping others make sense of the data and results of analysis I perform
What don't you like about your current job?
The amount of administrive tasks I have to do