To investigate the use of alternative protein buffer systems to replace the use of animals in the manufacture of immunodiagnostic products

Ortho Clinical Diagnostics

Student: Emma Williams, Cardiff University
Company Partner: Ortho Clinical Diagnostics
Academic Supervisor: Dr Pete Watson

The Student Perspective

by Emma Williams, Cardiff University

The Project

I am working with a company called Ortho Clinical Diagnostics, who manufacture immuno-diagnostic products. The company currently have around 50 types of medical kit and as part of my project I am working on two of these. The medical kits that I am working on are their Rubella and anti-HIV diagnostic kits. The aim of my project is to replace one of the kit components foetal bovine serum. At this stage of the project I am collecting my data, but we have still had some unexpected results, which has been really good for my learning through the process.

What is great about the work that I am doing with the company is that it can be applied, if the project achieves its aim the company will have something that they are able to use in their products, making their products more reliable, and improving profitability.

Personal Development

Until I started the KESS project I’d not been involved with commercial science in that sense, I’d only done research for research’s sake, so I’m finding it really interesting doing research that is applicable to pure science as well as industry. It’s enabled me to have a clearer understanding of the way my research can be applied to industry.

I’ve enjoyed working with the company; I’ve not seen it as additional work. When I applied for the KESS project I was a little concerned that it would be detrimental having that additional requirement, but in fact it’s been the opposite. I’ve found this link really good because I’ve got someone else that I can ask for advice. It’s great to have that additional person who is an expert in the field that I am researching and not solely coming from an academic perspective.

As a result of undertaking the KESS project I’ve become more confident in asking people for their opinion. I’m more assertive with my company partner, there are times when he is busy which I understand, but I have become proactive in my approach to getting in touch with him.

The Future

I hope that having the commercial awareness will improve my chances when it comes to looking for work as I already have experience of working with a company.
In looking towards my future development, after completing the MRes I’m hoping to take a little time out to relax and re-group, with a view to applying for PhDs. I want to stay in science, but I’m not quite sure which side, academic or commercial, the KESS project has sure given me food for thought.