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The University of Southampton
ChemistryOur alumni

James Dodd MChem Chemistry

Medicinal Chemist, Vertex Pharmaceuticals

James Dodd's Photo

James Dodd studied a 4-year masters in Chemistry, which contained a 6-month industrial placement.

Chemistry at Southampton is consistently at the top end of the league tables for teaching, which gave me confidence of gaining a strong start to my career.

Why did you choose to study at Southampton?

I chose Southampton because of its strong reputation for research and innovation. The school of Chemistry is consistently at the top end of the league tables for teaching which gave me confidence of gaining a strong start to my career.

Where do you work and what is your job role?

I work for Vertex Pharmaceuticals in Oxfordshire. Our company objective is to create cutting-edge medicines in order to solve unmet clinical needs. As a Medicinal Chemist in this organization, my overall role is to design and synthesise potential drug candidates that can be further developed within a clinical context.

What aspects of your degree do you use in your day-to-day job?

I invariably use most aspects of my degree in my day-to-day job. As my job is primarily lab based, I am heavily dependent on the laboratory techniques learned in my undergraduate study.

Equally as important, I regularly use the theoretical aspect of my degree in designing synthetic routes to potential drug candidates.

Did you enjoy your time at Southampton - what memories stand out from your time here?

I thoroughly enjoyed my 4 years at Southampton. Particular high points would include meeting a wide variety of people in both social and academic environments.

Also, in my 3rd year I was given the opportunity work on a project within the within the Linclau research group. This was a challenging yet interesting experience and was invaluable to my development as a scientist.

How did the University help you prepare for employment?

There were 2 key aspects of my University experience that prepared me for employment. Firstly, because of the School of Chemistry’s excellent industrial connections, I was able to spend a 6-month placement at Eli Lilly. This provided me with essential experience that helped me gain employment at Vertex.

Secondly, I found the University’s Careers and Employability Service a major help in finding employment. I was offered 1-1 career advice and I also utilized their CV drop-in clinic. The department also conducts regular career fairs that gave me the opportunity to interact with a wide variety of companies.

What advice would you give to current students in order to help them get one step ahead of the competition?

Within your degree courses, avoid being over-reliant on material given in lectures and tutorials. Reading around the subject is vital to gaining a fuller understanding of your course. The earlier this is done, the more impact it will have and hopefully this will reflect in exam results.

Without detriment to your degree course, get involved in as much as possible. It’s imperative that you demonstrate to employers that you have additional skill sets surplus to your degree course. Placements and internships are also vital in gaining an extra advantage as well as building early professional networks.

And finally, plan early. As soon as you have decided on a career path, then take every measure to ensure you are developing the relevant skills and experience. A common mistake is to leave this until the final year of the degree course!

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