Showcasing careers beyond academia
Lisa Gallacher

Lisa Gallacher

PhD in Chemistry, University of St Andrews
Senior Medical Writer
Porterhouse Medical

What is your background?

After graduating in 2003 with a degree in chemistry from the University of St Andrews, I followed the majority of my peers and started a PhD. Having no idea what I wanted to do as a career, a PhD seemed like the sensible choice; I enjoyed learning, liked being in the lab and loved living in the beautiful coast town of St Andrews. After completing my PhD and publishing several papers on my results, I continued on my academic track and pursued a 2-year postdoctoral position in Helsinki, Finland.

Why move away from academia?

There were many things I really enjoyed about academia: working at the cutting edge of science, the flexibility that it offered, the collaborative work environment, and the feeling of success when the experiment you had been working on for months finally produced the results you were hoping for! However, towards the end of my postdoctoral position, I found that the writing of publications and grants, and the communication of my research, was more enjoyable than the lab work itself. I began researching various career options that encompassed the areas of my work that I enjoyed most. I considered publishing, consultancy, and grants administration until I stumbled onto the website and discovered the exciting world of medical communications. The more I read about the industry, the more I was convinced a medical writing role was exactly what I was looking for.

I love working in a challenging, diverse and fast-paced environment with a great team of people who make work fun and enjoyable.

What would be a typical day for you?

Since starting at Porterhouse, no two days have been the same. One day I might be working on a slide deck for presentation at a congress, and the next I might be developing a resource on pipeline therapies for a pharmaceutical company. Despite coming from a chemistry background, I have been able to pick up medical terminology and grasp varied biological fields with ease due to the support structure and vast knowledge base of the Porterhouse team.

Which transferable skills were most important for your transition out of academia?

Because the majority of my time is spent considering how best to interpret, display and accurately convey data, as well as creating compelling narratives for publications or presentations, I am using a lot of the skills I developed during my academic career. Life in a medical communications agency is incredibly fast-paced and dynamic, and I feel like I use my problem-solving skills more today than I did when troubleshooting failed experiments in the lab! Even more importantly, I am still learning and developing my skills as a writer and communicator.

What would you like to achieve in the future?

Having been at Porterhouse for more than two years, I have worked on a number of intellectually demanding projects and have been promoted to the role of Senior Medical Writer. I have found medical communications to be an incredibly fulfilling, challenging, and rewarding career that fully utilises my scientific skills and expertise. I’m looking forward to progressing further within the medical communications industry and applying my skills to new projects and challenges.

Established in 2002, Porterhouse Medical is an award-winning medical communications agency with a reputation for excellence. Our in-house teams of carefully-selected account managers, medical writers and designers work hard to deliver creative and intelligent medical communications programmes for a growing number of UK, European, and global pharmaceutical partners. In recognition of our achievements we have recently been awarded a Queen’s Award for Enterprise 2016 in the category of International Trade – the UK’s highest accolade for outstanding achievement in business.

At Porterhouse, we believe our people are our greatest asset. Our employees, made up of medical writers, account managers, creatives and events managers work closely together to provide truly outstanding client service. We are looking for the very best life sciences graduates, postgraduates and postdocs in order to maintain our reputation as a first-class medical communications agency delivering scientific programmes of the highest quality. We are always interested in hearing from intelligent, personable, motivated individuals who are interested in joining our team, and we are dedicated to training enthusiastic candidates who are keen to embark upon an exciting career in medical communications. If you think you have what it takes to work in a challenging and rewarding agency environment, producing materials of the very highest quality and exceeding the expectations of your clients on a regular basis, please email: