Written by Dr. Thomas Hill
My introduction to the world of drug discovery
My scientific career started at around the time I learnt the words “why” and “how”, with my first school report stating that “Tom likes to learn new things and tell people about them”. Fast forward to 2008, in the middle of a financial crisis, I have just finished a BSc in Forensic Science and I am standing talking to my supervisor at graduation asking their advice on how to get a job in Forensics. I was recommended to read for an intensive 1-year Masters in Toxicology at the University of Surrey, which I started 5 weeks later. This was arguably the most important year of my life. I was firstly introduced to the world of drug discovery and to my future wife – Charlotte (Charlotte’s Patch Clamp Journey So Far… • Metrion Biosciences).
Putting my skills into practice
After the Masters, I worked as an intern in the DMPK department at UCB, where I was able to put into practice many of the skills that I had acquired and really cemented my love of drug discovery. Following this internship, I went on to do a PhD where I helped to develop cannabis-based treatments for epilepsy, sponsored by GW Pharmaceuticals and Otsuka pharmaceutical working alongside Charlotte. The group covered two major disciplines, electrophysiology, and behavioural neuroscience.I worked within the behavioural side of the group, looking over with interest at my wife who was learning both manual patch clamp and multi-electrode array.
After my PhD, I was invited to interview for a position as a Pharmacology Project Manager at GW pharmaceuticals, where I managed the preclinical development of treatments for neurodegenerative disorders, oncology, and epilepsy (as well as dabbling in PK when needed). I loved the science we were doing and developing drugs for people with rare diseases, but I missed the lab.
Getting back in the lab
So, I took up a Post-Doctoral position in the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland working with Prof. David Henshall, where I worked on microRNA-based treatments and diagnostics for epilepsy, picking up both tethered and telemetry based in vivo electrophysiology. Having had some time to recover from her Ph.D. and rediscovering her enjoyment of electrophysiology while writing a book chapter, my wife wanted to get back to the world of Drug Discovery and so applied for a job at Metrion, which brought me back to the UK just as the COVID-19 pandemic got started.
Helping during the pandemic then starting work in the CRO industry
Upon my return to the UK, I wanted to help with the pandemic in the only way I knew how working in science. I started a job at the Cambridge Covid Test Centre (employed by Charles River), where I prepared samples for PCR testing. I was then promoted to Team Lead of the Technology Development department, where I helped to evaluate new testing methods, optimise the testing process and introduce a novel approach to making samples safe to handle in the lab. After the Government closed the testing labs in Cambridge, I used my knowledge to help optimise a start-up Covid testing lab in Cambridge. After spending more than a year working in Covid labs, I got a job in the Ion Channels Group at Charles River, where I learned how to use both the FLIPR and Qube platforms. I am excited to be working at Metrion and further my career in Ion Channel Drug Discovery.