Last week marked British Science Week 2016, an annual campaign that aims to inspire innovation and celebrate science. To mark the occasion, thousands of events took place across the UK. Randox Laboratories got involved, celebrating the innovation of Randox scientists, and the complementary work of our teams, through a series of tweets and articles. Read on to find out more about our teams, and how we contribute to science!
What are the different divisions within Randox?
The Randox team encompasses our clinical chemistry teams Randox Reagents, Randox QC and the RX series of clinical chemistry analysers; our niche divisions including Randox Food Diagnostics, Randox Toxicology and Randox Biosciences; and, our service divisions including Randox Testing Services and Randox Health. The contribution each team has made to science is simply marvellous.
How do we contribute to science?
We contribute to the innovation of diagnostic technologies
At the forefront of the Randox success is our investment in R&D. Beginning our journey in 1982 with a small selection of reagents, our test menu now comprises of over 116 biomarkers. Today our reagents and QC products are used to ensure the accuracy of patient diagnosis across the world; even American astronauts use Randox reagents to test their antioxidant levels before going into space!
On par with this is our RX series range of clinical chemistry analysers. Launched in 2003, the RX daytona was the first in the range of flexible analysers; still in circulation, the RX daytona is currently used by GB athletes to ensure their health and wellbeing in the run up to Olympics 2016.
We are paving the way for personalised, preventative healthcare
From the creation of our revolutionary Biochip Array Technology (BAT) and launch of our first Biochip analyser in 2002, our thirst for innovation and creativity has continued to grow. Dedicated to advancing scientific discovery, drug development and diagnostics; the Randox Biosciences team pave the way to the future of healthcare with tailored solutions for clinical and research use.
From personalised healthcare to preventative healthcare, our succession to improving healthcare continues to expand; with our own Randox Health clinics we utilise our own innovative materials and technologies to provide private health care across the UK, soon to be the world with our acquisition of 10 new international clinics!
We are pioneers in the industry of drug and alcohol testing
As the first company to bring to market synthetic cannabinoids, Kratom and Bath Salts, Randox Toxicologists pioneer to strengthen 21st century drug testing. Sharing in this vision, the Randox Testing Services team recently helped the UK Home Office to shape the drug driving law that was passed in 2015; they created the tests needed to enforce the law. These tests can detect even the smallest amounts of illegal drugs in the body, and since then, drug drive arrests have soared by 800%.
And our innovation does not stop there!
Randox entered the realm of food and wine screening with the Randox Food Diagnostics team, a team of specialists who aim to improve the standards of global food safety with the development of superior screening solutions. Exported all over the world, our products, including dedicated kits for wine analysis, are utilised on such a large scale that our Randox Food Diagnostic scientists analyse enough wine to fill 40 Olympic swimming pools every year!
Maintaining the Randox goal to improve health worldwide is what motivates our R&D scientists, who work hard to help this be achieved!
What do Randox do to inspire others to enter a career in science?
Inspirational in itself is the success of Randox; founded in 1982 in Northern Ireland, it is now a global success with presence in over 145 countries. The company’s success is largely due to the determination of founder Dr Peter Fitzgerald. In fact, in 2010 Dr Peter Fitzgerald was appointed as CBE for services to business in Northern Ireland.
In addition to the company’s awe inspiring success, the Randox Careers team aspire to inspire, and attend careers fairs and presentations, along with Randox scientists and engineers, to share their experiences of working in the industry; most recently our ‘Women in STEM’ initiative has focused on encouraging women to enter careers in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.
To celebrate British Science Week 2016, we shared the story of two Randox scientists; read Michael Mullan’s interview ‘A day in the life of a Molecular Biologist’ or listen to Clinical Analyst Emmet Donnelly in our ‘Interview with a Randox R&D scientist’.
So what does the future hold for Randox?
As the future of science continues to prosper, so does the future of Randox! With the new Randox Science Park in the works, exciting developments in the areas of manufacturing, R&D, and healthcare awaits; accelerated development of products will be facilitated with further investment in R&D, and next generation medical diagnostics manufacturing. In addition a Transformative Healthcare Centre from the Randox Health division will also be included. Randox Science Park will advance our efforts of improving health worldwide!
Did you know, the RX daytona is currently used in the English Institute of Sport?
The RX daytona, the first analyser of the RX series, is used at the English Institute of Sport to test elite athletes for GB athletics in the lead up to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. Randox reagents are also utilised to ensure the health and wellbeing of these elite athletes, with various chosen reagents including Albumin, IgA and TIBC (Total Iron Binding Capacity).
Why was the RX daytona the chosen analyser?
The RX daytona is a compact analyser with cost-effective benefits, and is complimented with a world-leading test menu. Providing performance like no other, our Great British athletes can be assured of accurate and reliable results! The RX series ensures confidence in testing, and flexibility of choice with a series of clinical chemistry analysers available.
The RX series, as part of the Randox team, aim to perform as highly as our award-winning athletes expect!
Understanding the competitive environments of our GB athletes, and supporting their dreams to succeed, we ensure confidence in results with precision and accuracy like no other. This is why the RX series analysers are one step ahead of the rest.
This British Science Week 2016, the Reagents Team at Randox are celebrating the hard work our Research and Development Team put in every day, to help bring the best quality diagnostic reagents to the market.
We caught up with Emmet Donnelly, Clinical Chemistry R&D Scientist, to explain a bit about what his work involves, and how it’s impacting on global healthcare!
What is your position and what does it involve?
I am a Clinical Analyst on the Clinical Chemistry R&D Team. This role involves the development of new reagents and the improvement of existing reagents. It also involves the transfer and testing of existing chemistries onto new analyser platforms. Troubleshooting and resolving customer queries also forms part of a clinical analyst’s role.
For those of us who aren’t in the industry, can you explain what reagents and assays are?
A reagent is a chemical used to detect the quantity of another component or analyte in a sample (blood or urine), for example a cholesterol reagent contains the necessary chemical make-up to detect the amount of cholesterol in a patient sample.
An assay is the procedure involved in determining the amount of analyte in a sample using a reagent. For example a cholesterol assay involves enzymes within the reagent breaking the cholesterol down into its chemical constituents. These constituents react with other components in the reagent to form a coloured indicator. If this assay is being used on a clinical chemistry analyser, light is passed through the coloured mixture and the amount of light absorbed is proportional to the concentration of analyte in the sample.
How does you work impact on global healthcare?
The diagnostic assays are a vital component in the diagnosis of disease. In order to find out, for example, why a patient is feeling poorly they must first have a blood test to measure all their blood analytes. This will help diagnose the underlying problem and aid in choosing and monitoring the correct treatment for that patient. For example a patient suffering from diabetes must constantly have their glucose levels monitored so that correct doses of insulin can be administered.
What is your favourite Randox product and why?
I like some of the old products like glucose, ALP and cholesterol because they are the tried and tested reagents that are essential for monitoring the health of our vital organs. These always comprise part of the panel of testing to be done when our GP takes a blood sample from us.
I also like the newer reagent products such as the DOA (Drugs of Abuse) reagents. They offer a means of detecting illegal substances in urine samples offering aid to law enforcement.
The scientists here at Randox work hard on research and development, to ensure that we are producing the highest quality range of clinical diagnostic tests on the market. Excitingly, as a result American astronauts have recently enlisted our help to test their antioxidant levels before they go to space!
Why do astronauts need their antioxidant levels tested?
It is very important for astronauts to monitor their health and take plenty of antioxidant supplements in order to prevent bodily damage and to survive long periods of time in space! The main concern is to monitor and control the levels of free radicals in the body as well as to prevent damage from radiation which can cause bone and muscle loss and diminished immunity.
What can antioxidants prevent the astronauts against?
Bone loss – Bone loss can happen during long periods of microgravity (weightlessness), where astronauts can suffer from calcium, vitamin D and vitamin K deficiency. Vitamin supplementation paired with exercise can protect against this.
Vision-related hazards – Astronauts can suffer from degraded vision, caused by a shortage of vitamin B, especially vitamin B9 (folic acid).
Magnesium deficiencies – There can be a lack of magnesium due to a loss of fluid volume in the blood circulation which can cause damage to DNA stabilisation. This lowers the ability of mitochondria to produce cellular energy (mitochondria is part of the cell related to respiration and energy production).
Memory loss – Lipoic acid can reduce the risk of astronauts developing memory problems which can occur through being exposed to radiation.
Radiation – A reduction in the capacity of astronaut antioxidant defence systems and damage to DNA can occur due to exposure to space radiation. Vitamins A, C, E, zinc, selenium, glutathione and sulphur compounds are all nutrients which should be supplemented to their diet to counter these effects.
The Total Antioxidant Status (TAS) test from Randox can help give astronauts an overall picture of their antioxidant health, which helps them manage their wellbeing in space. To find out more about Randox antioxidant testing, download our Antioxidant Products brochure, or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Molecular Biologist, Michael Mullan, was fascinated by science from a young age. For him, it was only natural to progress into a career as a scientist. Being able to use his skills of problem-solving to improve diagnostic technologies leads him to describe a career in science as fascinating, challenging and rewarding. Read what he has to say…
Can you describe a typical working day?
There’s no such thing! Each day varies so much and is usually split up between carrying out laboratory work, and analysing and interpreting data. I work in the Molecular Diagnostics department in Randox Laboratories with a team of Molecular Biologists and Engineers, and we develop DNA-based diagnostic tests that can detect pathogens, genetic mutations and even calculate a patient’s risk of developing certain illnesses.
What has been your educational / career path to this post?
From a young age I was fascinated by science, so I chose to study Triple Award Science at GCSE level and Biology, Chemistry and ICT at A level. Having enjoyed science at school I decided to study Molecular Biology at Queen’s University Belfast and then moved on to a Master’s degree in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, because I wanted to use my aptitude for problem-solving to improve the diagnostic technologies which are so important in healthcare. I started on the Graduate Development Program here at Randox where I worked as a Technical Support Specialist before moving into my current position in the Molecular Diagnostics department.
What transferable skills have you used in your various roles that have come from your STEM training?
My time at university prepared me well for my current job as I often research papers and write reports, and have to follow good lab practice. Transferable skills such as these are the building blocks of any career, however those developed through scientific education are highly sought after by all employers, even those outside the science sector. Good communication skills are essential, and my time in Technical Support helped me to develop my ability to communicate with customers and colleagues. Organisational skills are also important to carry out experiments correctly and safely, and to record methods and results in an understandable and clear way.
How does your work as a Molecular Biologist make the world a better place?
Our Molecular Diagnostic tests provide highly specific test results for patients based on their genetic makeup and this opens the door for personalised medicine. The work my team and I do improves the accuracy and speed of patient diagnosis; faster, more informative diagnosis can save lives.
What do you really like about your job?
My favourite thing about my job is that no two days are ever the same. Working as part of a multidisciplinary team who work on a range of different projects takes me completely out of my comfort zone and challenges me to think outside the box.
Can you say anything about the future job prospects in your industry?
The Biotechnology industry is currently expanding at a phenomenal pace. So much so that students in school today who decide to go down a scientific career path will be using technologies that haven’t even been invented yet. That is such an exciting prospect.
How do you balance your career with your personal life?
My working day allows me to have plenty of free time to myself in the evenings and also at weekends. Working in a laboratory environment can be challenging and extremely fast-paced at times so I like to go to the gym and run to let off steam.
Would you recommend Molecular Biology to young people planning their career?
Yes, 100%. If you are a young person with a thirst for knowledge, particularly in science, and want to spend your days doing something you love that really makes a difference, then a career in Molecular Biology is perfect for you.
For information about careers at Randox please visit careers.randox.com.