Hi, my name is Annika and I work at AstraZeneca as a Scientist in the PT&D Graduate programme.
I'm originally from Finland and started in the company by doing my master's thesis in the field of continuous wet granulation in Drug Product Manufacture in Gothenburg, Sweden. I had a blast doing the thesis and learned a lot during the months spent in the lab among all the AZ scientists. I appreciated the great feeling of co-operation where everyone was working together towards the same goals. And even as a master's thesis student I really felt like being part of the team. During this time I got to know some of the graduates in the PT&D and IMED programmes at Gothenburg site through a young-minded organisation called AZ Youth. I saw how the graduates were doing all this cool science and having the emphasis on learning while contributing to the drug projects. It sounded a good way to start your career.
After my thesis, I was eager to learn more about pharmaceutical industry, work with the experts in this field and see more of the different functions and departments. I wanted to focus on the later stages of drug development which made applying for the PT&D graduate programme an easy choice. I luckily was accepted to start in September 2015 and have loved it ever since.
My first placement was in Inhalation Devices and Packaging in Product Development, Gothenburg, Sweden. I am a pharmacist by background and being part of a team of engineers was challenging at first and ended up being very fascinating in the end. I learned a ton! I focused mainly on the usability aspects and reviewed all the human factor studies made by my department, looking at how the patients interacted with the devices we were designing and helped to improve the design and instructions to further improve the usability of our devices. Since AZ has a big respiratory pipeline and a lot of collaboration inside and outside AZ, it was an interesting field to be in.
At the moment I am doing an international placement in Biopharmaceutics in Product Development at Macclesfield site (the UK) where my role involves learning about the human physiology and different ways we as a pharmaceutical company can track how the body affects the medicine's absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion. This is done through analytical and pharmacokinetic modelling. I have my own project where I am modelling data from clinical studies to see the correlations between intravenous and oral dosing models, and these pharmacokinetic models can in the future contribute to designing the right clinical trials for the benefit of the patients.
I usually say I have the greatest job ever! I just get to learn more every day. Well, of course you have the things that you are expected to deliver in each placement but that comes naturally since these are usually entwined to your overall learning. I get excited when there are a lot of things happening around me and the beauty is that I get to be a part of this journey from the complex molecules to the actual patient-friendly products. Pharmaceutical industry continues to amaze me and the amount of scientific expertise, drive and co-operation happening at AZ is simply astonishing. The possibility of doing international placements makes it even better since AZ is such a large global company.
I think the graduate programme is for you if you can interact with a lot of people, are willing to learn and are not scared of taking on a subject without previous knowledge of it. Looking back when I worked as a pharmacist in a community pharmacy, I think I can now contribute to a much wider range of patients while having a science focus in my work. My advice for a future graduate would be: love a challenge, talk with people and gather as much knowledge as you can!
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