A day in the life of a Molecular Biologist

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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.