Medicines Discovery Catapult Welcomes Science Students for a Taste of Life in the Labs

Local college students enjoyed a hands-on work experience week at MDC

Medicines Discovery Catapult (MDC) has welcomed students from The Trafford College Group’s Cheadle campus to experience life in the workplace and see how MDC’s drug discovery laboratories operate.

MDC provided the students, currently studying for a BTEC Diploma in Applied Science, with a packed schedule of activities, giving an insight into what it is like to work in the labs. As well as touring the MDC facilities, the students learnt about the role of a lab technician and took part in some laboratory tasks.

MDC asked them why science interests them as a career choice and for their highlights from their work experience. Here are some of their responses:

Passion for science

“The topic of science was my biggest passion as a child, and I would have a lot of fun if it were my job. I’ve really enjoyed my time here. My favourite part of the experience is that it has broadened my view of scientific job roles.”

Variety of roles

“I enjoy learning about pharmaceuticals, and my highlight of the week was handling chemicals. I’ve learned about different applications of science in the workplace, and it has made me realise that, even within the lab, you can do many different roles.”

An eye-opening experience

“I was hoping for a fun and eye-opening experience, and it was indeed fun and showed me preferred careers. I like learning and figuring out problems and solutions, and science provides all of that – it’s endless.”

Throughout the week, the students had many opportunities to put their learning into practice and understand the different roles available in life sciences.

Niaz Najafi, Senior Lab Technician at Medicines Discovery Catapult, explains more:

“The students had a lab tour with us, and we explained day-to-day procedures, such as housekeeping, stock control, and receiving lab supply parcels – all important elements of managing the lab. We showed the students our equipment and instruments and how they work. Some of our scientists explained how the instruments are used for experiments. The students also had hands-on experience working around the lab, which they enjoyed.”

Charley Garside, Senior Lab Technician at Medicines Discovery Catapult, added:

“The work experience at MDC has allowed the students to learn what does and doesn’t interest them. This will help them as they will soon have to decide their future career path, which subject they want to study at university, different apprenticeship options or what jobs they would be interested in applying for.”

As well as the activities hosted by MDC, there were opportunities for the students to visit other innovative biotech organisations also based at Alderley Park.

Sonya Kewley, Facilities Manager at Medicines Discovery Catapult, said:

“It’s been a pleasure to host students from The Trafford College Group this week, giving them an insight into the range of roles that could be considered in completing their studies. Providing work experience at MDC is a really valuable way of inspiring the next generation of scientists and business operations professionals. Being able to experience the work environment for themselves makes a huge difference in their future career decisions.

“Thanks to the kind offers of support from other biotech companies at Alderley Park, Apex Molecular, Cryoniss, Gentronix, Charles River, and Blueberry Therapeutics, as well as members of the Alderley Park team, the students have encountered a wealth of passion and experience at all levels.”

The Applied Science course at the college’s Cheadle, Stockport and Stretford campuses offers students the chance to continue their studies of all three sciences but in vocational scenarios, with less emphasis on examinations than the A-Level sciences.

Caroline Gothard, Work Placement Coordinator (Digital and Science), The Trafford College Group, said:

“It is more important than ever that young people gain experience in the world of work to help them develop key employability skills and build their confidence following the difficult few years we have all experienced. The support we have received from Medicines Discovery Catapult has been amazing. It will inspire our students to continue gaining “real world” work experience and support them on their chosen career paths.”

As part of its ongoing commitment to ESG initiatives, MDC promotes and encourages personal development. It seeks opportunities to share knowledge, develop sector skills, and provide access to high-quality jobs in medicines discovery, biological sciences and technology. MDC has delivered skills and sector awareness training in primary and secondary education settings and will be creating an enhanced school engagement programme to encourage students who are interested in science and pursuing science in further education.

MDC also currently runs a PhD intern programme and is committed to the continued support of this programme to develop young scientists of the future. MDC is including STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) initiatives into its KPIs for the next five-year business plan and will report internally and externally on delivery.

More information is available in MDC’s ESG Strategy >