Learning the ropes of a science SME

By Jasmin Boyd

16-09-2021



Jasmin’s experience as a placement student with Examen

Jasmin in the lab

We recently welcomed Jasmin to the team at Examen for a short placement in order to gain insights into the evolving reproductive science sector and to learn about the operation of a science SME. Jasmin is a biomedical sciences university student and this opportunity enabled her to develop laboratory skills with Examen’s state-of-the-art technology, understand the range of roles involved in this sector, and gain career-opening work experience, all under the expert guidance of Examen’s world class team of fertility scientists.

Jasmin spoke to us about her experience with Examen and told us a little bit about what she’s learned.

  1. Tell us about your current studies at university?

I am a final year biomedical sciences student studying at the University of Bristol.

  1. What is your role at Examen and how long have you been a member of the team?

I’ve been with the team for 4 weeks, during which I have primarily worked as a laboratory technician, but I’ve also been involved in a number of science SME roles including: research, quality management, marketing & commercialisation.

  1. Why did you choose Examen for your placement?

I chose Examen for my placement as it is a company which has a real beneficial impact on people’s lives, whilst allowing me to combine my knowledge of molecular science (specifically DNA) and my passion for reproductive science.

I also have a keen interest in the development and commercialisation of university spin-out companies (the master’s programme I am interested in involves creating our own spinout company). Thus, this opportunity has given me a unique insight into all aspects of a spin-out science SME, from lab-work through to marketing and management. Furthermore, I was able to gain this amazing all-round experience  whilst learning from internationally acclaimed experts such as Prof. Sheena Lewis.

  1. Has the time here inspired you to get into a career in fertility or science?

Yes definitely! After working alongside such an incredible team, I feel I have now a much better understanding of the evolving reproductive science sector and the job types involved. Since starting here, I have  been in contact with an embryologist to discuss my potential career pathway.

It has been an amazing opportunity to see how the world of male infertility diagnosis is being transformed and Examen has demonstrated the vital importance of sperm DNA fragmentation as an indicator for both fertility and chances of miscarriage. I can’t wait to see where this area of science develops and the career it may lead me into!

  1. Can you give us a brief insight into your day-to-day activities?

I typically would start the day in the lab setting up for the SpermComet® assay. This involved measuring sperm counts using a haemocytometer, sample dilutions, and preparing gels and buffers.

Jasmin pipetting

Due to the incubation periods involved in the assay, I would usually utilise this waiting-time to either work on market research for the marketing department or work on document/sample management training in line with our ISO 13485 and QMS requirements. I also assisted in the receipt, recording, and storage of patient samples which arrived in daily shipments.

In the afternoon, I would then set up and run the prepared gels in an electrophoresis tank and carry out staining of slides. At the end of the day, I would score the slides using Comet software and fluorescent microscope live imaging, which enabled the distinctive Comets to be visualised and analysed. I would then upload and compare my results to one of the Examen team’s using our SampleManager LIMS software.

  1. What have been your favourite parts during your time at Examen?

My favourite part was successfully performing the SpermComet® assay from start to finish on my own and seeing the incredible characteristic comets produced as a result. You can see an image of the comets I produced below.

Comet plot
  1. What do you find the most challenging?

Every sample is incredibly precious, therefore complete focus and accuracy is critical when performing the assay to ensure patients get their results back within our agreed SLAs.Also getting used to the early starts – I think I will stick to the life of a student for a bit longer!

I just wanted to say a massive thank you to the amazing team at Examen, who made my time here so special – I have well and truly loved every second of the last 4 weeks.

Thank you so much to Jasmin for her time as part of the Examen team – it’s been a pleasure having her on board and we look forward to seeing where her career takes her! If you’re interested in finding out more about careers in fertility research, take a look at our recent webinar series where leaders in the field share their expertise and latest research.

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