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Careers Panel

Join this Q&A guided discussion to explore diverse career paths. 

Our panel features experts spanning academia, industry, entrepreneurial spin-outs, science communication, and the cutting-edge world of computer-based bioinformatics.

Discover the insights, opportunities, and challenges these professionals have encountered in their unique career journeys. 


Silvia Del Din

Dr Silvia Del Din is a Newcastle University Academic Track (NUAcT) Fellow with an engineering background. Her expertise is in digital health. In particular, the aim of her translational research is enhancing the use of wearable technology and developing novel analytics to support remote monitoring and clinical management in ageing and neurodegenerative diseases (e.g., Parkinson’s). She has >90 publications and has attracted ~£1.5M in funding.

Silvia received her Bachelor’s degree in Information Engineering in 2006 and her Master’s degree (cum laude) in Bioengineering in 2008 from the University of Padova (Italy). In 2012 she completed her PhD in Bioengineering (Area of the Information Engineering PhD School) at the Department of Information Engineering of the University of Padova, under the supervision of Prof Chiara Dalla Man and Dr Zimi Sawacha (PhD Thesis: “Innovative Techniques for Biomechanical Evaluation of Stroke Survivors: Combined fMRI-Gait Analysis Assessment and Fugl-Meyer Clinical Scores Estimation Through Wearable Sensors.”). She spent part of her PhD at Harvard Medical School (Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital) under the supervision of Prof Paolo Bonato, using wearable technology for estimating clinical scores in post-stroke patients. From February until August 2012 she has been a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Department of Information Engineering of the University of Padova. 

Since September 2012 she joined Newcastle University working first as a Research Associate and later on as a Senior Research Associate at the Translational and Clinical Research Institute, in the Brain and Movement (BAM) Research Group, where she has been contributing to build the digital health theme and team.


Laura Walls

I am a Trainee Technical Project Leader within the Process Characterisation unit at Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies. This involves co-ordinating the technical activities of multidisciplinary teams to deliver small scale characterisation of manufacturing processes for the production of life changing medicines.

I graduated from Newcastle University in 2018 with an MEng in Chemical Engineering with Bioprocess Engineering. I then completed a PhD in Bioprocess Engineering at the University of Edinburgh. My PhD focussed on developing a scalable bioprocess for the production of anticancer drug precursors and novel jet biofuels using engineered yeast cell factories. Following my PhD, I completed a short postdoc at the University of Edinburgh and Roslin Technologies, where I worked on scaling up the production of porcine induced pluripotent stem cells for artificial meat applications using bench-top bioreactors. In 2022, I joined Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies as a senior research scientist in the Mammalian Cell Culture Process Development team.


Euan McDonnell

My current role is as a Bioinformatics Data Scientist with the University of Liverpool Computational Biology Facility (CBF), which I started in January 2023. This position entails providing bioinformatic/statistical analyses and expertise through a range of short- and medium-term projects that are undertaken with internal and external collaborators. Much of this involves analysing high throughput ‘omics datasets using a suite of tools largely based in R and Bash/Linux. I additionally co-organise and co-host a series of courses that the CBF runs, as well as providing support during an “R club” and “code and stats clinic” drop-in sessions. Overall, my role and the function of the CBF as a whole is to provide a knowledgebase for researchers and clinicians to help facilitate research that they lack the in-house expertise to perform, thus fostering interdisciplinary approaches.

I started out having no prior computational experience prior to doing an integrated Masters (MBiol) in Microbiology at the University of Leeds. Despite two wet lab-based summer placements and an initially part-wet lab Masters project, it was during my Masters year that I switched to full-time bioinformatics. This led me to take up an MRC DiMeN-funded PhD in bioinformatics, applying network approaches to RNA-Seq datasets in order to disentangle interactions between an oncogenic herpesvirus and infected hosts. During my PhD, I was involved extensively with the Leeds ‘Omics Society and found that I enjoyed demonstrating on courses, hosting seminars, and helping students and academics with various research questions. Because of this, as I was writing up my PhD thesis, I applied to for a role at the Liverpool University CBF.


Nichola Conlon

Dr Nichola Conlon is a scientist specialising in cellular ageing.  She is the CEO and Founder of Nuchido Laboratories, where she is on a mission to democratise science by translating the latest scientific breakthroughs into consumer products that slow cellular aging.  Nichola has successfully built Nuchido to be a global ecommerce company and is also an international speaker in the fields of healthy ageing and regenerative medicine.

Dr Nichola Conlon received her PhD in Physiology from Newcastle University before taking her specific expertise in the molecular biology of drug transport and distribution to e-Therapeutics plc, the network pharmacology pioneers, where she worked in early-stage drug discovery, specialising in the study of ageing as a biologically complex disorder.  She founded Nuchido Laboratories in 2017 with the focus of bringing efficacious anti-ageing products to market, in timescales much shorter that of pharmaceutically regulated products. 

Sci Comm

Rachel Dickinson

Rachel is the Communications and Engagement Manager at the NIHR Newcastle In Vitro Diagnostics Co-operative (MIC), a partnership between Newcastle University and Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

The aim of the MIC is to ensure that better diagnostics are available as quickly as possible for patients. The MIC does this by offering independent methodological expertise and generating a portfolio of evidence that supports adoption and use of innovations.

Rachel’s work at the MIC includes: developing and managing content for website, social media and newsletters; organising training courses; supporting grant writing, reporting and project work and engaging with collaborators including patients, the public and health technology industry.

Rachel has a long-term interest in medical research and science communication. She has an MSci in Genetics from University of Glasgow, PhD in Genetics from the University of Birmingham and 12 years’ postdoctoral research experience at University of Edinburgh and Newcastle University.