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Director of Medicinal Chemistry


I work as head of a 30-strong department researching new medicinal drugs.

00:00 My job as a director of chemistry is to look after a department of about thirty people

00:05 and the aim of the department is to discover new medicines,

00:09 so we’re very much at the forefront of medicinal research.

00:13 Clearly that’s not just chemists who can discover the medicines,

00:16 we work with colleagues from biology and other disciplines as well

00:19 but we’re responsible for actually designing and making the potential drugs.

00:25 Well personally in my job now, I don’t practice chemistry in the practical sense,

00:31 but the guys in the department who are working in the labs

00:36 spend the majority of their day at the bench or at the fume cupboard actually performing practical reactions,

00:44 because all of our drugs are synthetic molecules

00:48 and they need to be able to put these molecules together using the

00:52 organic chemistry techniques that they’ve learnt during their training.

00:57 Here at GlaxoSmithKline we employ a number of different people with chemistry backgrounds,

01:02 in the medicinal chemistry department we’re looking for people who have specialised in organic chemistry

01:07 and in particular synthetic organic chemistry,

01:10 but within the company we also employ molecular modellers or computational chemists,

01:15 people who’ve done analytical chemistry backgrounds and other physical chemistry backgrounds.

01:22 When I’m looking for someone to join the medicinal chemistry department

01:26 firstly we want someone who’s got a good, sound knowledge of organic chemistry in particular,

01:31 that’s a prerequisite, we also look for people to have some form of research experience,

01:38 be that as a result of an industrial placement year, and we have industrial placement years here at GlaxoSmithKline,

01:43 or a vacation work, either an industrial or an academic laboratory

01:51 or some substantial research project they may have undertaken,

01:55 at their degree level.

01:58 We employ people at degree level and PhD level,

02:02 so you have to have done some further education in chemistry.

02:06 Another important aspect of our work is working in teams,

02:09 we work in teams of chemists and multi-disciplinary teams,

02:14 and so team-working skills are very important to us,

02:16 and so we’d look for evidence of team-working skills with individuals.

02:21 We’d also be looking for people who are self-starters,

02:25 some evidence you can drive your own work without being spoon-fed information all the time.

02:31 Well I think chemistry, in its own right, is really exciting,

02:35 that was really the thing that got me hooked at the beginning,

02:38 and so I’d really encourage people who are interested in chemistry to pursue it to higher education

02:45 standard, it really is an interesting subject.

02:48 As regards the pharmaceutical industry,

02:51 the thing that really caught me was trying to use the chemistry skills

02:57 to influence biological processes,

03:00 and also people say that you hope that the work that you do will be of benefit to others.

“I think chemistry in its own right is really exciting, that was the thing that really got me hooked at the beginning.”

How did I get started?

I was enthusiastic about chemistry right from the beginning, finding it an exciting subject.

Skills used

Data Handling and Research, Management, Team Worker, Communication, IT and Technology, Problem Solving, Organisation

“We work with colleagues from biology and other disciplines, but we are responsible for actually designing and making the potential medicines. ”