Studying small things can lead to big opportunities says UCL Chair in Pharmaceutical Nanoscience
Nanoscience is an interdisciplinary field involving physicists, chemists, materials scientists and pharmaceutical scientists. Our Summer FERM, Professor Ijeoma Uchegbu works at the UCL School of Pharmacy as a Professor of Pharmaceutical Nanoscience. In an interview with EDT she spoke about the variety of the discipline, how she fell in love with it and the opportunities available through it.
EDT – How did you get involved with Pharmaceutical Nanoscience?
Prof. Uchegbu – “I became involved by doing a PhD in nanotechnology about 20 years ago and once I realised that I could make new nanotechnology and I showed that it could be used to make really effective medicines, I was hooked. For example, a medicine that we are developing uses nanotechnology to work. It is a pain medicine that without nanotechnology would not work at all. In essence nanotechnology switches the medicine on by allowing the medicine to penetrate into the brain where the receptors are.”
EDT – How would you encourage others to follow a scientific path?
Prof. Uchegbu – “Science is so fascinating and never boring. I learn something new almost every day of my working life as a scientist. I love gaining new insights into problems and I love going to work in the morning even on a grey drizzly day in late November. If you want a job that fills you with wonder at every turn and keeps you child-like in your delight at discovery, then science is the profession for you. If you want to be doing the same thing every day then become an accountant.”
EDT – Describe to us a typical day for you.
Prof. Uchegbu – “I am pleased to say that there is no such thing as a typical day as every day is different. Sometimes the differences are subtle and sometimes profound differences emerge from day to day, but the best part of the day is when I am either producing or reviewing new data from my team. It can be a tad frustrating when we cannot interpret the data but new data always excites me.”
EDT – Being an inventor of several patented inventions, which one are you most proud of and why?
“I am most proud of the patent underpinning our spin out company - Nanomerics. Nanomerics' key technology is its Molecular Envelope Technology and I remember drawing the molecule on a piece of paper before synthesising it and to be honest once this technology goes into humans, I think I will cry (yes cry) with sheer joy. It will be like Gwenyth Paltrow at the Oscars, but with more blubber!”
The study of nanoscience and nanotechnology can lead to many rewarding careers in a variety of sectors including: the electronics/semiconductor industry, materials science including textiles, polymers and packaging, the auto and aerospace industries, sporting goods development, the medical fields and pharmaceuticals, forensics, energy capture and storage and many more.
If you would like to find out more about the opportunities available in science-related careers, speak to your teachers or visit related resources such as – The National Careers Service, Science Career Pathways, or Future Morph.