Ashleigh

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Ashleigh Howes, Postdoctoral Research Associate

It felt like a big leap into the unknown, but I’m so glad I did it. I’ve always wanted to work close to clinical need, so it feels great to be part of a healthcare company. Thinking back to my time as an undergraduate, or even early in my PhD, I realise how little I knew about my career options outside of academia. It wasn’t until my first postdoc that I found out about the GSK postdoctoral programme – and how relevant my expertise in immunology is to the development of new medicines.

Since moving from academia to industry, I’ve learned how much goes into developing medicines that can be given to patients. So far I’ve worked on an immuno-inflammation project in a lab at the Francis Crick Institute and a GSK internal project also around inflammation. I’ve found the breadth of experience challenging, but rewarding when the experiments get going!

It felt like a big leap into the unknown, but I’m so glad I did it. I’ve always wanted to work close to clinical need, so it feels great to be part of a healthcare company. It wasn’t until my first postdoc that I found out about GSK’s postdoctoral programme – and how relevant my expertise in immunology is to the development of new medicines. Since moving from academia to industry, I’ve learned how much goes into developing the treatments that reach patients.”

The collaboration with others and feeling of belonging to something bigger are the best things for me. I’ve also expanded my knowledge base through being exposed to a wide range of scientific disciplines. Everyone on the postdoctoral programme is encouraged to take ‘development days’ to learn more about GSK’s broader business. So far, I’ve used mine to spend time with colleagues in strategy and respiratory departments. It’s been really valuable and has definitely built on my postdoc experience beyond working in a lab.

Working in a new kind of environment, there’s been lots to learn, but I’ve found the people at GSK welcoming and friendly. Even people I’ve never met have gone out of their way to help and make me feel at home.

The postdoc programme has given me great personal and professional development too. We recently had our first postdoc conference in Philadelphia. I enjoyed meeting other GSK postdocs from around the world. We all had a chance to present our work, and to hear from fellows and other employees about their career journeys and experiences

I’ve had training in soft skills like leadership and networking, and tailored support from a GSK mentor. This one-on-one time with someone established and experienced has been so valuable, from advice on specific questions to putting me in touch with other useful people to talk to.

 There are lots of opportunities at GSK to move around, develop and experience different things. As a scientist, I just want to keep learning in my career – so that’s a big draw for me. Above all, the GSK postdoctoral programme has taught me to be open-minded. It’s a dynamic environment where projects can develop quickly – I like that it keeps me on my toes!