UCL School of Pharmacy


Siran Chang, Pharmaceutical Research MRes

Siran Chang recently completed an MRes Pharmaceutical Research (Class of 2022).

Female scientist

What motivated you to choose the MRes Pharmaceutical Research programme at UCL?

UCL's reputation in pharmacy and related fields was a major draw for me. Moreover, the MRes programme's focus on research aligns with my aspirations of possibly pursuing a PhD in the future, offering a more intensive research experience compared to a taught Master's programme.

Can you share a particularly rewarding research experience you’ve had during your studies?

I enjoyed the entire year of this programme. It’s hard to point out a particularly rewarding experience. But if I need to share something, I will say the cohort meeting and the experience in my lab were the best. The cohort meeting really helped me a lot. That event provided us with the opportunity to keep practising presentation skills and get ready for the viva voce. And talking about the experience in my lab, I would say my supervisor, Professor Shozeb Haider, is the best supervisor I have ever met. No matter when I needed help, he was always there. One day it was 11:00 pm, and I was alone in the lab struggling with an issue. My supervisor came in, sat with me, and we fixed the problem together. And he explained several theories/concepts to me, although some of my questions were kind of stupid. To be honest, I was not always confident on my project, but my PI* always encouraged me, and never let me fix the issue alone.

*Principal Investigator

How has the programme helped you in preparing for your future career?

Like I mentioned previously, I would like to apply for a PhD programme after graduation. Due to the numerous research experiences that the MRes programme offered me, I got a PhD programme offer from Tsinghua University. During my interview, the committee asked about the research I had conducted during the MRes programme, so I believe the research experience I had at UCL gave me the opportunity to secure the offer. In addition, because the lab I chose at UCL was in a different field from the lab I used when I was in undergraduate school, this programme helped me when choosing a different research concentration that I am more interested in and built the foundation of the new area.

Do you feel the skills and knowledge gained during the programme are relevant to the pharmaceutical industry?

The skills and knowledge I learnt are highly related to the pharmaceutical industry. I have taken PHAY 0022 and PHAY 0031. PHAY 0031 is about analysing formulations and materials, so I learnt how to use several different types of equipment, such as HPLC, DSC, IR. That equipment is common in the pharmaceutical industry. The skills and knowledge I gained from PHAY 0022 and my lab experience align closely with the operational requirements of a Research & Development Department in the pharmaceutical sector, as confirmed by job descriptions and skill sets sought on professional platforms like LinkedIn.

What advice would you give to someone considering applying for this programme?

I suggest going through the publications that the supervisors had before choosing the supervisor. Choosing the area or academic concentration is very important.

Would you recommend this programme to others, and why?

I’d definitely suggest the MRes Pharmaceutical Research programme to anyone coming from a pharmacy or related background who's eyeing a PhD down the road.

First off, the programme gives students the flexibility to shift the academic focus. With a variety of labs to choose from, one can dive into a new specialty and really build up expertise.

Plus, it’s all about the research. Students get to spend a whole year in the lab, which is a big positive if someone is planning to go for a PhD. Students won't be bogged down with loads of unrelated classes; instead, they can focus on what really matters to their research.

So, if you're into the idea of working in the pharmaceutical field and a PhD is on your radar, I’d say this programme is your best bet.