UCL Faculty of Life Sciences


Alessandra Pennetta, Drug Discovery and Pharma Management MSc

Alessandra studied Drug Discovery and Pharma Management MSc at UCL, graduating in 2013. They now work as a Clinical Research Manager at Dyson in Singapore.

Photo of Alessandra Pennetta
What inspired you to study at UCL?
  • International experience  - no city is like London when it comes to a melting pot of culture and nationalities.
  • One of the World's top universities - which can definitely help fresh graduates to land their first jobs.
  • Specialised MSc offer - I was specifically looking for a MSc in Drug Development and Pharma Management and not many universities offered that at that time.
  • Duration of the MSc - I already had a two-year MSc which I completed in Italy, and I was to commit to an extra year of study.

What did you enjoy most about studying in London?

  • International student community.
  • Access to top-class university facilities, for instance 24-hour libraries.
  • Proximity to many pharma and biotech companies, who's headquarters are based in London.

What is your favourite memory of UCL?

  • Long night sessions with my classmates in the Science library preparing for the exams!
  • Joining open sessions to UCL societies and clubs with my classmates  - it was a good break from all the hard study sessions at the library!
  • Mondays' drinking at Phineas with my friends who I am still regularly in contact with!

What advice would you give to current or prospective students?

To current students: 

  • Make the most out of your time at UCL. It goes pretty fast! Try to explore what is beyond the Faculty of Life Sciences as UCL has so many activities and events going on! Join clubs and societies, socialise with people from different courses...you will make long-life friendships like I did! 
  • Ask questions during class! You have top-class professors so make a good use of their expertise. 
  • Choose your final internship wisely - do your due diligence in advance and choose a topic you are truly interested in. This is your opportunity to explore a topic more in depth - it may even help you land a job after, you never know!

To prospective students:

  •  Choose a course that you are truly interested in as you are investing your time and your finance.
  • Find which career paths are available after you finish your studies, make a two, five and ten year career plan and speak to former UCL students and ask for advice. It's fine not to know at this stage what you want to be as you grow older.
  • Make sure you start your first day with the right attitude: be positive and curious! Be open to all your new classmates and make sure you create a collaborative environment with some healthy competitiveness. 

Briefly describe your journey, from graduating to where you are now.

After I graduated, I immediately started working as an intern for an international Contract Research Organization (CRO) in London providing full support to the clinical development of new therapeutic drugs to pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical device industries in the form of services outsourced on a contract basis. After only five months, I qualified for a fast-track career progression which landed me my first job as a Clinical Research Associate and, after four years, a Clinical Trial Manager. I am currently working as a Clinical Research Manager for a well-known UK engineering company, managing a team of clinical research scientists, data managers and biostatisticians to deliver innovative study designs and meaningful clinical study reports to prove the efficancy and the safety of innovative technologies. Since my final dissertation at UCL in innovative clinical development programs, I have also nurtured my passion in digital health and medtech and I am currently working as a Digital Health director for a non-profit organisation that aims to improve mental health across Africa countries. Since 2018, I have also moved from the UK to Singapore, where I am currently based. 

Throughout my career, I have had the opportunity to be part of clinical development programs for innovative and life-changing therapeutic drugs in different indications, from oncology to rare disease, as well as medical devices and consumer care products. I have engaged with Key Opinion Leaders from all over the world and have learnt about cutting-edge technologies. I am determined to make a career with an impact so this is just the beginning of my adventure! 

How do you think UCL has helped you in your career to date?

It has definitely opened my mind to consider other careers beyond academia and made me a "world citizen" as this was my first long experience outside Italy, where I am originally from. It has also provided me with a study methodology which I constantly use...you never stop learning!