The Talent Pool

Published on: 
BioPharm International, BioPharm International-12-02-2006, Volume 2006, Issue 7

Professors Walter Kolch, Ijeoma Uchegbu, and Anna Dominiczak are examples of scientists who have discovered a collaborative environment in the Scottish life sciences sector.

The Scottish life sciences community is greatly enriched by its ability to attract talent from all around the world. The web site, created by Scottish Enterprise, actively promotes Scotland as a destination, and highly trained people come from all over the globe to take positions in life sciences organizations in Scotland.

Once they arrive, life scientists and clinicians remark on the open and collaborative environment they find here. They value the advantages of relatively concentrated centers of excellence and the benefits of open dialogue across a wide range of disciplines.

An Austrian proteomics specialist, Professor Walter Kolch, now of the University of Glasgow, had precisely that reaction. "I have found Scotland to be immensely welcoming," he says. "It isn't always easy to get used to the weather, but it's very easy to like the people." Kolch, Professor Ijeoma Uchegbu, and Professor Anna Dominiczak are examples of the top-level scientists who have discovered an excellent collaborative environment in the Scottish life sciences sector.

Professor Ijeoma Uchegbu

Ijeoma Uchegbu, PhD, is a professor of drug delivery at the Nanomedicines Research Center at the University of Strathclyde ( and a founding director of biopharmaceutical company Nanomerics (, a university spinout company. She is extensively involved with innovative research surrounding drug delivery and, in particular, with ways of raising the effectiveness of drug treatments which are normally insoluble in water and therefore have a poor pharmacokinetic profile.



Having graduated in pharmacy at the University of Benin in Nigeria and obtained a Masters degree from the University of Lagos in Nigeria, Professor Uchegbu gained a PhD in drug delivery at the School of Pharmacy, University of London, before coming to Scotland in 1997.

As a pharmacist married to a biologist, it is not surprising that her professional passion lies in finding better ways to enable drugs to do their work within the body. She works extensively with her husband, Dr. Andreas Schatzlein, a biologist at the Center for Oncology and Applied Pharmacology at the University of Glasgow, and a director of Nanomerics.

"Our aim is to offer 'blue sky' solutions through the collaboration of biologists and pharmaceutical scientists to change the very architecture of drugs," she said.

Uchegbu believes the West is well served with both scientific and clinical research facilities. She insists the argument that "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts" is particularly relevant when talking about the interconnectivity of clinical and pharmaceutical sciences research.

Professor Anna Dominiczak

British Heart Foundation (BHF) Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine, and director of the BHF Glasgow Cardiovascular Research Center at the University of Glasgow, Anna Dominiczak, is one of the world's foremost medical researchers in cardiovascular health.


Her work concentrates on the interaction of genes and the environment to help advance the understanding of why certain groups of people are more susceptible to cardiovascular disease than others.

After graduating in medicine in Gdansk, Poland, Dominiczak first came to Glasgow in 1982. She describes the city as "a great place to 'grow up' in medical and research terms, through the positive culture of clinicians and scientists working side by side."

The new British Heart Foundation Cardiovascular Research Center ( in Glasgow, which Professor Dominiczak heads, brings 140 cardiovascular researchers and support staff under one roof and provides a focus for a wider community of students, scientists, and clinicians from around the world.

Professor Dominiczak believes strongly in the interconnectivity of scientific research. She feels strongly that one of the advantages of the active life sciences community in the West of Scotland is the opportunity available to all to draw together the threads of many different research projects.

"Regardless of technology, life-changing discoveries are often made while chatting over a cup of coffee," she says. "The friendly environment surrounding the new center greatly facilitates both the formal and informal sharing of knowledge."

Professor Walter Kolch

Professor of Biomedical and Life Sciences at the University of Glasgow and group leader at the Beatson Institute, Glasgow, Professor Walter Kolch has a world-class reputation for his research in proteomics, cell signaling, and analytical biochemistry. His work centers on the principles of cancer growth and transformation and, in particular, of signal transduction pathways, or intercellular channels of communication.


Born and educated in Austria, Professor Kolch worked extensively in both the US and Germany before moving to the Beatson Institute for Cancer Research ( in Glasgow in 1998. He was appointed Professor of Molecular Cell Biology at the University of Glasgow in 2000.

Professor Kolch is also a highly successful manager of research projects and was the lead applicant in the successful funding application, which led to the establishment of the Sir Henry Wellcome Functional Genomics Facility (SHWFGF) at the University of Glasgow in 2001.

Professor Kolch points out that an essential part of scientific research is teamwork. His base in the West of Scotland places him at the forefront of biochemistry and signal transduction research/proteomics in Europe.

Not least among the advantages he finds here is the approximately $21-million grant made in 2005 by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council—two of the most important granting institutions in the UK—for the development of proteomics technologies over a six-year period. This is a joint project involving researchers from three Scottish universities in Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Dundee.