Aneesh

Optical Imaging Scientist

Annesh Alex, Optical Imaging Scientist

Like a lot of scientists after completing their PHD, I reached a point where I wasn’t sure about my next step. Should I continue to narrow my niche in academia, or pursue a career in industry?

As a specialist in biomedical optics, I’d studied around the world — in India, the UK and US. It was then, and is now, an exciting field. Cutting-edge optical technology could revolutionise various aspects of healthcare and biomedical research – from high-definition imaging of damaged skin or other organs in a non-invasive way, to optogenetic techniques that use light to control cells in living tissue.

When I learned that GSK was offering a postdoctoral programme, something that could give me the resources to make meaningful advances in the field while improving patients’ lives, I knew it was the perfect opportunity. Since joining the programme two years ago in the US, I’ve been working on new optical imaging techniques for pharmaceutical research and development.

I feel like this whole experience has given me direction for my career. There are so many exciting opportunities to apply my skills in industry and serve a social purpose. If I ever want to go back into academia, I know that the skills and exposure I’ve gained will only be of benefit.” 

Working in the pharmaceutical industry has given me really broad exposure. It’s been rewarding to see how my specialist technological expertise fits into the bigger picture, working with talented people from other disciplines to help solve real, unmet need in global healthcare.

I’ve been involved in a Phase 1 clinical trial for a medicine that GSK is developing to treat skin conditions. As well as developing new skills in data analysis, visualisation and interpretation, I’ve also had personalised support from my mentor.

Because my place of work is a collaboration between GSK and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, I’m based at the University campus rather than a GSK site. I connect with others on the postdoctoral programme through monthly meetings and an annual postdoctoral symposium. These are great ways to catch up on what everyone’s doing, learn from each other and connect socially.

Another highlight for me is that I’ve been given a platform to talk about my work. GSK is proactive about sending me to industry events. So far I’ve had the opportunity to attend and present my research work at three international conferences.

I feel like this whole experience at GSK has given me direction for my career. There are so many opportunities to apply my skills in industry and serve a social purpose. If I ever want to go back into academia in the future, I know that the skills and exposure I’ve gained will only benefit me.