Physiologists in industry work in commercial settings to research and manufacture new therapies, treatments and medicines that could be used in the future.

Pharmaceutical industry

The pharmaceutical industry is a major UK industry, with hundreds of companies, employing over 70,000 people in a variety of different roles in the research, development, manufacturing and supply of medicines. There are also roles in marketing and safety assessment among others.

Biotechnology firms

Biotechnology involves applying the biological knowledge of organisms to the needs of industry. Most biotechnology firms are smaller hi-tech enterprises and they often start out as university spin-off or university-associated companies. Many are located in science parks and innovation centres. Many biotech companies aim to create novel therapies and diagnostics in areas such as bio-engineering, regenerative medicine, and genomics and data. These treat and manage conditions that enable people to lead improved lives.

Examples of roles in industry:

Both pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies employ people in varied roles.

Researchers in industry work in a more commercial environment compared to academic researchers. They are involved in producing new drug treatments. This involves not only lab research, but also designing and running clinical trial stages.

Other roles are not research-focussed, but build on research findings and help to deliver new therapies to the market.

Before any medicine or treatment can be sold or marketed, the company has to demonstrate that it meets appropriate manufacturing standards. It has to establish its risk-benefit profile, which is based on many stages of clinical trials. Regulatory authorities then evaluate this profile after which the drug is then approved. Support roles for this process include:

  • Regulatory Affairs Officers – maintain product licenses and ensure the correct information is submitted to regulatory authorities
  • Drug Safety Officers – monitor drug safety and changes to risk-benefit profile
  • Sales Representatives – promote therapies to healthcare professionals
  • Operations – manage the running of the company
  • HR – recruit the right talent
  • Communications and marketing

How do I get involved in industry?

  • Graduate schemes – there are many roles in large companies specifically for young graduates in research and development as well as non-laboratory roles. These roles allow you to transition from university to a career easily as they are training-driven and let you develop a comprehensive understanding of the industry. Two to three year programmes include the Innovative Medicines and Early Development (IMED) graduate programme, offered by AstraZeneca, as well as GSK’s Future Leaders Programmes. Information on these schemes can be found on the companies’ websites.
  • Industry funded PhDs – companies sometimes partner with institutions or researchers to fund PhD opportunities.
  • Smaller companies may also have graduate roles, which are not always advertised so it is a good idea to approach them directly to find out if they have roles suitable for you.

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