Dr Esther Odekunle
Dr Esther Odekunle holds a Bachelors in Biochemistry and a PhD in Neurobiology. She currently works as an Antibody Engineer at the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline, where she identifies and removes risks in antibodies to make them more develop-able as medicines. Outside of her job, she is passionate about increasing the visibility of diverse STEM professionals. She also loves to travel, and experience different cultures and food.
My moment where I connected with science was strangely through an acronym. From memory, the acronym, MRS NERG (Movement, Reproduction, Sensitivity, Nutrition, Excretion, Respiration, Growth), helped me learn what made something a living organism, and from there I didn’t look back!
That said, transitioning from academia to the pharmaceutical industry was difficult. I didn’t have any industry experience before applying, and while I knew I had technical and transferrable skills to be an asset to many companies, it took a monumental amount of effort and interviews to convince anyone to give me a chance. Adjusting my CV so that it was more tailored towards industry rather than academia was crucial during this stage.
I have a pretty fantastic job within the sciences as an antibody engineer, which means I find and remove bad things in medicines so they can work really well in your body.
There are so many great parts to the job, but one of the best parts is getting to learn about different diseases, and then be involved in developing antibodies that could one day become medicines to fight these diseases.
Working in the pharmaceutical industry, I have noticed that the public perception of pharma is mainly mistrust. I cannot speak on the strategic decisions made at the top, but I can speak for scientists at the frontline making medicines. Our main motivation is to improve the lives of others by using our skills and expertise to discover and develop medicines.
If you’re on the fence about a career in the sciences, my biggest piece of advice is you won’t know unless you try. If there are opportunities to find out more about what STEM professionals do, go for it! It may help you decide if a career in STEM is right for you.
The Smashing Stereotypes campaign is supported by 3M.