Placement gave me a clear focus

Laura Pegg went to Treorchy Comprehensive before coming to USW to study Pharmaceutical Sciences.

Why did you choose a Pharmaceutical Science degree?
I’ve always had an interest in science and how medicines work, so when I found out that this course was available, it sounded too good to pass up. The course is more suited to what I was looking for with regards to the science behind making and developing medicines, rather than the distribution of medicines over the counter. The course will lead to a wide range of well-paid jobs in areas such as research and development, quality assurance, quality control, clinical trials, cosmetic testing, as well in sales and marketing.

What kind of person would it suit?
Having a passion for what you study is always a bonus because it pushes you to learn more. In the labs, you will benefit from having good problem solving skills. For example, if you don’t quite get the experimental results you expected, you’ll need to draw upon your knowledge from lectures and understand the science behind certain reactions in order to solve the problem.

What has been the most valuable aspect of the course?
I love the laboratory sessions that allow you to explore and use the different types of equipment that are available, many of which are used within pharmaceutical companies. It prepares you for their standards. You also get used to taking down important information and translating this into a full scientific report.

Have you been on any placements?
In my first year, I went on a short work experience within the pharmacy unit of the Prince Charles Hospital where I was exposed to the clinical trials unit. This sparked an interest for me in this field, so when I heard of a three-month paid placement opportunity at PRA Health Sciences, a clinical trials company in Swansea, I thought it could show me a different side of the clinical trials process.

At PRA, I was assigned to a study that assessed the safety, tolerability and efficacy of a treatment undergoing clinical trials for breast cancer. I was tasked with ensuring data from external databases/datasets was consistent with data in the clinical database. I learned how to use relevant software such as Datalabs and JReview, and a new function within Microsoft Excel, vlookup, which helped me to run listings.

Back in Uni, the placement experience really helped with my Bioinorganic Chemistry module. I had a better understanding of the theories behind the studies and how scientists decide which molecules to use to make the treatments more effective biologically.

What are your career aims?
I would like to explore the field of clinical trials. The second year of the course has helped me to understand the science behind the research that goes into the trace elements of treatments and how they work in the body for certain diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, cancer and wound healing.