Andrew Johnson is the Laboratory Manager at Platelet Services and this year, he celebrates 40 years working in science. In our latest blog, Andrew shares the career journey that led him to Platelet Services.
From an early age, Andrew was always interested in science. At school he took CSEs but knew he needed to get better qualifications so went on to take O Levels in English, Maths, Chemistry and Biology. He then joined a government-funded, youth opportunity scheme in biochemistry at the University of Nottingham. As Junior Technician, Andrew was able to experience working in a laboratory which fuelled his interest in lab work.
He Joined Boots Pharmaceuticals in 1983 (which became Knoll Pharmaceuticals in 1995). For the following 13 years he worked in a number of areas and roles progressing from Junior Lab Technician to Senior Lab Technician in the animal unit and then toxicology.
Whilst at Boots, Andrew was also given the opportunity to study on day release, completing an ONC in animal technology, physiology, and pharmacology and an HNC in science with laboratory administration.
His experience evolved and he moved internally to the Stability Section of the Quality Control Department to work on stability testing of pharmaceuticals, running routine stability testing of new drugs under development. Andrew recalls:
“When I started working on stability testing, I moved to the Beeston site in Nottingham, and gained experience in analytical techniques including HPLC, dissolution testing and method development – areas which were new to me”
During his time carrying out Stability Testing he moved into the Pharmaceutical Development Department based at the Pennyfoot Street site in Nottingham. (Now BioCity Nottingham).
In 2001, Knoll Pharmaceuticals closed the site, so Andrew found a temporary contract position at Boots carrying out batch release and quality control, whilst looking for his next career move.
Andrew moved to the University of Nottingham in the summer of 2001 working for Alan Cowley, supporting medical research that was being undertaken by clinicians studying patients with heart disease. He developed extraction methods and HPLC methods to measure drugs and naturally occurring chemicals within blood and urine samples from these patients.
When Alan Cowley retired, Professor Stan Heptinstall, Head of the Thrombosis and Haemostasis Research Group at the University, wanted support with an HPLC method.
“Stan was working in a new area, which was very interesting. He also trained me on platelet function techniques and their involvement in cardiovascular disease and stroke, which led me to become a platelet scientist.”
His work included clinical investigations of new antiplatelet drugs in patients and healthy controls and running stability testing of test vials for the (then) University of Nottingham spin-out company Platelet Solutions.
When the University closed the Thrombosis and Haemostasis Research Group in early 2014, Andrew took time to reflect on what he would do next.
“I had a young family and wanted to do something different. Having always had a passion for gardening and the outdoors, I decided to set up my own gardening business which gave me the flexibility to spend more time with my daughters. Alongside this, I also picked up some contract positions which kept me working in the laboratory.”
However, in 2017 Andrew had a biking accident which resulted in him having to wind down his gardening business. Then out of the blue, Andrew was contacted by Biopharma Stability Testing Laboratory and he was able to join them as a Senior Analyst on a part-time basis.
In November 2018, Platelet Services was formed as a contract research organisation, and given his extensive experience in pharma and platelet research, Andrew was invited to join the company as Laboratory Manager, a role he has held since joining. His skill set and background have been important in customising and optimising study protocols for client projects.
“Platelet Services is a great company. My role is very wide as I look after quality ensuring we work to the principles of GLP and focus on reliable results. I oversee SOPs, service contracts, and the maintenance of equipment as well as helping with risk assessments and health and safety. I am also able to continue my work in the lab and am involved in designing and undertaking platelet research studies using different platelet function techniques for our global client base.”
Find out more about the Platelets team here.