From academia to industry

Bio-molecular engineer, Dr Shamim Reza believes scientists can ‘do good’ and also ‘do well’ by looking beyond research for rewarding careers in industry

Shamim joined Smiths Detection in February 2022 as a Senior Scientist – Synthetic Biology/Protein Engineering. His scientific journey began when, as a boy, he seriously considered studying medicine and was guided to research by a surgeon who stressed how critical it is to have new ideas and developments to push back medical boundaries.

Leaving his home in Bangladesh, Shamim travelled to Japan to study Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Tokyo, before continuing his career at The Scripps Research Institute in Florida. The next step was Postdoctoral Research at New York University, followed by the role of Research Scientist at the University of Virginia.

“I knew my future lay in solving problems and my focus was on evolving natural proteins and synthesised peptides for therapeutic applications. I felt there was a place for me in industry but, with my academic background, did wonder if I would fit in. I think the key is to find the right project to lure you out of your comfort zone and whilst working on a new imaging tool to identify tumours, I was drawn to an Open House at Smiths Detection in Baltimore.”

An introduction to Smiths Detection

The Open House proved a turning point for Shamim. It led to several mutually interesting conversations and then along came that ‘right project’. Smiths Detection invited Shamim to join the team working to further develop the company’s BioFlash® Biological Identifier – a bio-aerosol collection and identification system for diseases and common biothreats such as anthrax, ricin, botulinum toxin, black plague, tularemia and smallpox.

“With my background in bioengineering, this was the perfect fit. I accepted a position working in a new bio-lab based in the UK and quickly settled into some new and exciting projects.”

Calling all scientists

Everything we do in today’s world is driven by science. It starts with just an idea, which grows, is commercialised and then impacts the whole world – the COVID 19 vaccines are a perfect example of this evolution.

“I would like more people to discover how exciting science can be and perhaps look at potential careers outside of academia. Industry is adventurous, willing to take risks and knows how to bring ideas to life. I feel very welcome and at home in my new role at Smiths Detection where my ambition is to create something useful and help make the world a safer place.”