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Case Study: Anna

Personal details
Degree:BSc Neuroscience Profile picture
School(s): School of Psychology and Neuroscience
Year of Graduation:Jun-2014
National of: United States of America
Employment details
Organisation: Oregon Health & Science University
Job title: Research Assistant II
Occupational Sector: Research Analysis
What has been your route to getting your current position?
Immediately after graduating, I took an internship at the Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle before moving home to Portland and starting work as a research coordinator at Oregon Health & Science University
What does your job involve ?
Coordination of clinical research studies involving individuals with multiple sclerosis research, ranging from studies with a focus on wellness behaviours such as exercise, stress reduction, and diet modification to industry-sponsored trials of MS drugs.
What are the best bits of your job ?
I love attending the interdisciplinary meetings of the MS Wellness Research Center (the activities of which I am responsible for coordinating). These involve clinicians and basic scientists from across the hospital and university collaborating on study design and planning as well as analysis of active study results. Participants in the meetings are experts in MR imaging, health promotion and sports medicine, bionutrition, physical therapy, naturopathic medicine, and, of course, neurology. It is exciting and encouraging to see this inter-disciplinary collaboration, and with such a diverse range of backgrounds, the discussions are always lively.
Why were you successful?
Aside from my background in neuroscience, my experience working with individuals with varied cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds, and coordinating events (for St Andrews societies!) were assets. Particularly in clinical research, sensitivity and the ability to deal well with people in difficult situations are crucial.
What skills/ knowledge from your degree have you found particularly helpful in this role?
The basic "research process"- study design, scientific method, etc. are the most directly useful skills in this role. Although my 3rd year and final year courses were largely focused on the neurophysiology and psychology of neurodegenerative disease, I don't think MS was mentioned more than once or twice!
What advice would you give to students wishing to follow the same path?
Working in clinical research is a great starting point- exposure to both the medical profession as well as to basic science can be helpful when deciding which path to follow.