Helai, Senior Fellow, US
I’ve been at GSK for almost 10 years, before that I was at John Hopkins University on a post-doctoral fellowship in Cancer Epigenetics. I was approached about joining via LinkedIn – the research focus areas within GSK Oncology were linked to my academic interests.
Meeting the GSK scientists, it was obvious that science was highly valued by the business and that their work had had a big impact on medicine. Until that point, I was much less familiar with the role that deep science could play in an organisation like this. I was completely blown away when I found out. In my current role, I am a Senior Scientific Director of Biology within Oncology and a Senior Fellow.
My team are responsible for discovering potential medicines to take forward into clinical trials. I lead pre-clinical work to identify mechanisms or targets that could possibly be used in drugs to tackle cancer. For example, perhaps a certain protein will have been identified by my or another team within GSK. We’ll manipulate it, validate literature or data from other tests, see how molecules that perturb its function work in vivo, and make recommendations along the way either supporting or advising against further development.
I have been part of the GSK Fellows programme since its inception. The programme enables scientists to have a broad impact – that’s what it’s all about. I like that the programme recognises the importance of scientific excellence and emphasises how science should be at the forefront of our R&D strategy. It also encourages publishing, and that’s important for GSK’s scientific credibility, even beyond our industry.
In 2016, I was invited to join the Fellows Council, which meant I could contribute to shaping the programme. We started by identifying new Fellows and developing the vision and mission statement in the hope that both would resonate and capture the key features of the Fellowship.
Being part of the Fellows programme has been a tremendous experience. It has definitely enabled me to build my network. The Fellowship brings together so many different deep-level subject matter experts; I know exactly who to go to with any scientific query. I’ve learnt about areas of science I didn’t know existed at GSK! I’ve also had the opportunity to engage with senior leaders, develop enterprise thinking, and have the chance to share science widely. I’ve found broadening the scope of my scientific experience really rewarding.
The aspect I enjoy most about being part of the Fellows programme is the people. There are top-notch, world-class scientists in this company. I’ve learned something new at every seminar and from so many different people. I’ve also found mentorship really rewarding and have learnt a lot about myself by acting as a mentor to other Fellows. That, together with my own development journey and contact with my mentors, has been a tremendous experience.
The Fellows programme highlights the value that science and scientists bring to the development of medicines, encourages publication, and offers a breadth of learning across so many areas.
Our Fellows Programme is critical for GSK employees who are focused on expert scientific and technical progression and provides a clear vision of what scientific excellence looks like. There are three levels of Fellowship: Associate Fellow, Fellow and Senior Fellow. All Fellowship members are expert at their scientific disciplines and become role models, who motivate others to excel technically and who attract and excite talented scientists.
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