Context and background:
Paint a picture of yourself as a learner?Throughout my education, I would always consider myself a visual/kinesthetic learner. When learning about new topics, watching videos on accessible information databases such as Youtube or Khan Academy were always my go to learning resources. Implementing experiments or practical tasks were always easier to me when I had seen them being performed before.
When in college, Lecturers who actively engaged the room of students they were teaching have always had a greater effect on my education than lecturers who simply presented the information directly off the slides they had displayed on the projectors. Graphs, Charts, Maps, Diagrams, Videos, or any such imagery have always been more accessible to me when learning new information and implementing new tasks.
Describe yourself and the path to which led you to this course:
Originally I was part of a Bsc Computer Science Degree in Dublin Institute of technology. After two years bashing my head against the wall to achieve average results in the field, I decided that it wasn’t for me and dropped out.
Dropping out of Computer Science was the best decision I’ve ever made, as it was not something I had a real interest in and forced me to think about what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I applied to study Nutraceuticals in Health and Nutrition as I was always interested in General Science and Nutrition, in which I have now found a new love for pharmaceutical based modules which sprung from being a part of this course.
Througout my life I have always been a very active person, Competing at high levels of different sports growing up. Being interested in fitness and health led me to have a big interest in Nutrition, specifically how different substances/compounds interact with the body to influence performance, recovery and growth. Knowing how foods and pharmaceuticals interact with the body and how they can be used to treat disease and illnesses is the main interest I have within the course.
What are your career goals for the future?
In the future my goals are to work within the expanding Nutraceutical industry abroad for 3-5 years to develop an understanding of the industry and gain experience in such roles as Quality Analytics or Quality Control. After 3-5 years I would like to explore the possibility of becoming and entrepreneur and develop my own brand of supplements that would target a niche group of athletes. In order to be able to compete with large companies such as Glanbia and MyProtein in the Ireland/UK market, I would need to gain a following and expand my network of contacts before taking such a high risk, and also gain experience within the industry.
The influence of my work placements and experiences:
In the last 6 years, I have worked in a number of different jobs that have influenced my views and interests. Working in retail jobs has given me the drive to continue studying in order to graduate and pursue a career in a field that interests me. The Positive experiences gained from working in retail for 3 years cannot be discredited, although not comparable to the Pharmaceutical or Nutraceutical industry, my communication and problem solving skills were tested on a regular basis, allowing me to improve in these areas which will be important when entering into a new line of work. Time keeping and punctuality were also important while working in retail, and will be important in future roles as well. Setting targets and achieving goals were both important factors in retail, which I believe will transfer over into the Pharmaceutical and Nutraceutical industry very well, but on a higher scale.
Third year in college offered the opportunity to partake in a 3 month work placement within a selective industry. Originally I was set to work within a pharmaceutical company’s QA section, but due to unfortunate circumstances the company were unable to honor the placement. This unfortunate event left me stranded for a few weeks, until I was offered a placement in a small food producer’s company as an intern.
Over the 3 months. I was asked to develop a HACCP plan for the company as my main project, as there were no risk assessment, quality control systems, traceability, product recall or stock control in place before I arrived. This was great experience to gain, as I had to perform a full in-house audit of the company before I could begin to design any systems. The company was only a small producer and was part of the Supervalu food academy, which was their main source of revenue, along with local markets and food festivals. The company had to meet the quality standards required by Supervalu, and a set of guidelines and requirements were issued that had to be met in order to supply to their food academy. This experience developing a HACCP plan for a company gave me insights into the QA and QC systems required for food, and developed my knowledge in entrepreneurship a lot further.The experience gained working for a small food producer was valuable, but the insights gained influenced my career aspirations, making me realise that I’m more interested in pursuing a career working within the Pharmaceutical or Nutraceutical industries. Taking part in the interviews leading into the work placement was also valuable industry practice for when the time comes that I will be applying for jobs and preparing for interviews.
With the experience gained from the work placement section of my degree, it influenced the type of thesis I would take on. Knowing I had a big interest in pharmaceuticals, organic chemistry and Diet, Health and Diseases, I was drawn to a thesis that was aimed in extracting and purifying the Nutraceutical “Ursolic acid”, which I would then analyse and test the cytotoxicity of in the U373MG Human Glioblastoma cell line.The thesis was a great experience and forced me to really go outside the normal learning criteria of my degree. I used conventional extraction methods to extract Ursolic acid, and developed novel methods of extraction that proved successful in increasing the yield of Ursolic acid extracted from cranberries. The characterization of samples extracted was great experience, as I was able to use technologies such as HPLC, RP-HPLC, FTIR and TLC. When performing my own research I developed a big interest in knowing exactly what I had extracted and isolated before testing it on the cancerous cell lines. Through the use of ALAMARblue assays to test the cytotoxicity of a drug I produced, I discovered that my extract from a natural source was slightly less cytotoxic than pure synthetic Ursolic acid.
The experience of doing a Thesis really gave me insights into what it takes to produce a drug, and opened my eyes to the new opportunities within the Pharmaceutical industry and Nutraceutical industry. Many compounds are still available to be researched, especially Nutraceutical compounds which are only really being researched for their health benefits and ability to treat diseases in the last 20 years. The delivery of my compound to the brain was also a major factor that had to be accounted for when analysing the compound that I had extracted, and penetration of the blood brain barrier was the main obstacle that would have stood in my way. This peaked my interest on how drugs are carried through the body, and also how they are administered in order to create the desired effect.
Drug Delivery is an ideal modules to partake in as an elective for me as an individual, as learning about how drugs interact with the body through pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics is an interesting topic for me, and will allow me to understand the quality requirements and controls better for products within industries that I hope to enter into in the future.References: