Celine Courtay-Cahen decided to look into using her scientific skills to break into regulatory affairs. Here, she discusses what steps she needed to take to make this a reality.
Five years ago, when I asked people around me what regulatory affairs consisted of, nobody could answer me.
I am a researcher with many years experience at the University of Cambridge working on Molecular Biology and Cancer Genomics. As I was reaching the end of a long project involving the collaboration of several teams around the world, I had to consider what I wanted to do next.
A new scientific career
I decided to explore new possibilities, building a new career where I could still use my scientific skills and work experience. It was not easy to gather information about regulatory affairs and what the job descriptions really meant. I looked on-line, bought a book, and found the TOPRA website. From there, I was able to acquire a better understanding of the profession and decided that it represented a logical progression after my scientific experience working on the molecular causes of cancer.
I saw regulatory affairs as the possibility to act at another level, but still be involved in the huge process of delivering new treatments to patients. Nevertheless, despite my extensive scientific experience, it proved quite difficult to secure a first position in a regulatory team. I contacted TOPRA who advised me to start by offering my services as an intern and was given a list of consultant offices likely to offer me a position.
Steep learning curve
After a few more phone calls and an interview, I was able to start working under the supervision of very experienced regulatory affairs professionals in a small consultant company. The learning curve was definitely steep, having to familiarize myself to a new professional world of writing and consulting regulatory documents and providing up-to-date regulatory advice to clients.
Three years on, I am still working as a consultant and I thoroughly enjoy working for a number of different clients, each project bringing its own specificities and its own challenges.
Celine works in regulatory affairs for Envigo, based in Cambridge.