Pamela Jackson, MSc in Bioprocessing Science

Name: Pamela Jackson

From: Cavan

School: Royal School Cavan

What key skills did you learn while studying at IT Sligo that have influenced your career?  

Studying a Masters in Bioprocessing, I covered modules such as upstream and downstream Bioprocessing, Quality Control, Biologic formulation and Regulation and Compliance. Through these modules I gained an understanding of the creativity and hard work required to produce biologic drugs and medical devices. In both theory and practical classes at IT Sligo I learnt a number of skills such as sizing and cloning DNA fragments, cell culture techniques, how to make academic posters as well studying number of analytical techniques used to make and purify biologic drugs. This Masters in Bioprocessing was completely eye opening for me.  

Can you share some detail of your career path to date 

My first job while in school and college was teaching piano lessons to beginners, this was a skill my mother passed down to me. Although I started a course in nursing after my Leaving Certificate, my final undergraduate destination was studying Home Economics and Biology teaching at St. Angela’s College, Sligo. I thoroughly enjoyed this course and I’m forever grateful for the experience working as a student teacher in Secondary schools gave me. While in St. Angela’s I studied a Biotechnology module and after this, I knew I wasn’t ready to become a secondary school teacher and wanted to learn more. This was why I decided to apply for a Masters in Bioprocessing at IT Sligo. While completing this Masters in IT Sligo, I was given the opportunity to apply for a Graduate Award. On receiving the Abbott Donegal Award for Excellence in Science, I was offered a full-time position at Abbott’s Diabetes Care business in Donegal Town as a Technical Support Engineer. I have now worked for Abbott for 1.5 years. 

What does your current role involve? 

As a Technical Support Engineer at Abbott’s Diabetes Care business in Donegal, my role is to monitor the performance of Blood Glucose Testing Strips that are manufactured on-site. This role is exciting, challenging and constantly evolving as I learn more about this process. I have been given opportunities to get involved with projects and validation activities as well as working with different teams on site. I feel very fortunate to work for a company that is so progressive in encouraging education and a positive culture on-site, while also producing life-changing medical devices used by people with Diabetes across the world. 

What advice would you share with our current students considering a career in your field? 

My only advice for students considering a career in the Medical Device industry is to take any opportunity for experience with open arms. Anything you don’t know how to do can be learnt.  

What did you like best about your course? 

The thing I liked most about studying a masters in Bioprocessing is learning about new Biologic drugs and the creative way they can be formulated to ensure effective delivery of Biologics to patients. In addition to this, I learned so much about Fungal Molecular biology through my research project which involved gene silencing in mushrooms.    

What did you like best about IT Sligo?

I liked IT Sligo’s new facilities like the canteen, the fully equipped science laboratories and of course the students. Although my class was small, we had a diverse group with students from different countries and colleges.   

What advice would you give a first year student starting in IT Sligo? 

I had very little knowledge of Bioprocessing or Medical Devices when I joined Sligo IT. My first few months in the IT were particularly challenging as many of my classmates were graduates of Pharmaceutical or Medical Device courses. I worked hard to keep up with them over the first few weeks, spending long days in the library with many trips to the IT Sligo shop for coffee!! This being said, I would advise first year students to learn effectively. Watch videos and podcasts related to your course in the car or train before exams, look at exam papers at the start of the year so you know what will be expected of you and know when assessments due as that’s half the battle!! Finally, I would tell first years to make the most of living with other students and experiencing the nightlife that Sligo has to offer!  

Find out more about the Masters of Science in Bioprocessing Science