A Lighthouse journey leading to BioAscent: Local opportunities for talented and motivated early career scientists

Published: 07 July 2022

Applying the knowledge gained as an undergraduate, and adapting to full-time work can be difficult, particularly for those whose studies were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In this blog, we hear from recent recruits into our Biosciences team, Lorin McVeigh, Cara Burns and Nicole Pranckevicius. All three of these talented scientists gained an insight into industry whilst supporting SARS CoV-2 testing at the Lighthouse Lab in Glasgow during the pandemic, motivating them to subsequently continue their career journey at BioAscent.

Cara initially studied BSc (Hons) Immunology and Pharmacology, before completing MSc Cancer Therapies at University of Strathclyde. Lorin studied BSc (Hons) Biochemistry at University of Glasgow. Nicole obtained her BSc in Biology with a minor in Biochemistry, before completing MSc Comparative Physiology at McMaster University in Canada. 
Lorin joined BioAscent in September 2021, while Cara and Nicole joined more recently, in February 2022 and June 2022 respectively. The Lighthouse Lab provided them with an outstanding opportunity to help society whilst gaining experience working with high throughput sample testing, developing their lab-based trouble shooting skills, and to gain experience working to the highest industrial standards and following SOPs. This experience enabled them to identify their motivating factors and career goals, which closely align with those at BioAscent. Their transferrable skills, knowledge and experience have enabled them to quickly adapt to and excel in their new roles at BioAscent.

Lorin McVeigh comments: “I am motivated by the idea that through applying various biological techniques, I could play a role in developing life-changing medicines."

"I was drawn to BioAscent due to its unique collaborative integrated drug discovery approach enabling scientists from various disciplines to work closely together and I appreciated that BioAscent played an instrumental role in setting up the Glasgow Lighthouse Lab. In the short time that I have been at BioAscent, I have been developing my skills and carrying out biophysical and cell-based assays for clients.”

Cara Burns adds: “Since the beginning of university, I was interested in drug discovery and development and aspired to be involved in this process. On joining BioAscent, it was clear that the company was and continues to be undergoing a period of growth, which to me was exciting to be involved in. I particularly value being involved in the potential discovery of new efficacious drugs with potentially fewer adverse effects and less toxicity which in the future may improve quality of life.”

Additionally, Nicole Pranckevicius adds: “The most valuable lesson I learned at the Lighthouse lab was the importance of staying grounded in the goal of your work, which is to help others. After joining BioAscent, I am excited to take on new challenges, and to further my knowledge of streamlining and developing workflows. BioAscent has provided me with opportunities to learn new techniques and work with different types of automated equipment.”

The Lighthouse Laboratory was set up as a national COVID-19 testing facility by the University of Glasgow and the Department of Health & Social Care, in collaboration with BioAscent, BioClavis, and the University of Dundee. BioAscent’s high-throughput screening expertise played a pivotal role in establishing high-throughput clinical testing. 

Dr Stuart McElroy, Director of Biosciences recalls: “Right at the start of the pandemic when media attention was firmly fixed on the lack of Covid testing capacity in the UK, it was very daunting to be asked to help the set-up the Lighthouse Lab at the University of Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital campus to support national Covid-19 testing. My experience in assay development, high throughput screening, automation, liquid handling and setting up teams enabled me to fulfil the lead role with a focus on establishing operations from March to May in 2020. Since then, it has been amazing to see how the Lighthouse Lab continued to develop and keep up with demand throughout the course of the pandemic and provided a training ground for many hundreds of early career scientists. This next generation are now available to help drive the life sciences economy in Scotland and I’m beyond delighted that some of them have chosen to join our team at BioAscent.”

At BioAscent, we are committed to employing the best early career scientists and providing them with opportunities to grow their skillset by working alongside our highly experienced scientists. We offer an environment where scientists can work and flourish outside of academia in Scotland, providing graduates with a wider range of career opportunities. Talented graduates are real assets to our team, and we are excited for all of the future accomplishments which our new bioscientists will achieve in their role. To find out more about careers at BioAscent, click here. 

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