Emily Russell is senior scientist and team leader in the Biosciences team at BioAscent. Her career started at Organon on the site that then became home to BioAscent. In our latest blog, Emily reflects on her career and shares her thoughts on BioAscent as a great place to work, and Scotland as a place she calls home.
After completing her degree in biological sciences at the University of Nottingham, Emily secured a graduate role at Organon in the target discovery group in 1998. Originally from England, Emily moved to Scotland where she was able to live in the company flat before moving to Glasgow.
At Organon, Emily developed her skills, knowledge and expertise in a number of areas including cloning, developing cell lines, PCRs, molecular biology, orphan GPCRs. She later moved into molecular pharmacology, where she focused on assay development and screening.
After ten years at Organon the site closed. Emily reflects: “I was expecting my second child at the time, and the news of the site closure was devastating. However, it gave me the opportunity to take some time off work to enjoy being a mum.”
Emily then went on to join the University of Edinburgh working in the Cancer Research UK building. This was the first time Emily had worked in a different lab to those at Organon and it was a whole new world of work, focusing on phenotypic work, microscopy and was where she first used an Incucyte. Something she then championed at BioAscent.
In 2013, Emily moved to the University of Dundee, working with the European Lead Factory (ELF) which is where she met Stuart McElroy. The ELF initiative ran until 2019 when the IMI grant work came to an end and the group joined BioAscent to form the newly created Biosciences department, helping to establish the company’s integrated drug discovery service.
“We were a small group, just the three of us and Stuart. This role was a huge learning curve for me, and I developed my knowledge and expertise in biochemical assays. Going back to the former Organon site was a brilliant feeling. We built the lab up again, getting it working and operational and gradually took on a few more people, and then by the time the ELF group had become BioAscent in 2018, we had a team of about eight of us. Since then, the biosciences team has grown to 19 staff. We now carry out a range of biophysical, biochemical and cell assays and have invested a lot in both our people and in equipment, including Echos, SPR andMST machines, Incucyte SX5, Odyssey DLx, and a multitude of plate readers. The lab is now very well set up.”
The biosciences group has now worked on a multitude of projects since then with a lot of different customers.
“I enjoy the variety, and no two days are the same. There is always more to learn and do and add, and there is the constant challenge to find better ways to improve and streamline processes. I have always felt like I have a say in how we do things, and it is exciting to be part of how we shape things as we grow.”
Living in Scotland offers Emily a rewarding work life balance. With three children, her family enjoys the outdoors and countryside on her doorstep, with the added benefit of being close to the vibrant cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh.
“I feel like I have the best of both worlds. I am in a job that I really enjoy, working on a variety of projects, and where I can support the growth and development of the next generation of scientists – just as I was supported in my early career. Furthermore, I get to live in a lovely part of the world where my children can grow up and the pace of life is just right.”
For Emily, the future looks great. BioAscent is growing and the biosciences team continues to expand as it works on an increasing number of interesting and varied customer projects.
“I have been given a lot of opportunities working at BioAscent and I am excited about the future. Things are constantly evolving and growing, and it is great to be a part of that.”