Focus On Women In STEM: Anti-Ageing Expert Dr Nichola Conlon Talks About Her Journey As A Woman In STEM

Dr Nichola Conlon
Dr Nichola Conlon

 

 

I am a mother, a scientist, an entrepreneur – raising a child, a career and a business by the age of 30. The path has not been simple nor straight, but I have gained a wealth of knowledge and experience along the way and am passionate about the need to support other women in the STEM sectors.

 

My core area of expertise lies at the conjunction of the science of why we age and the science of how to identify drugs that affect physiology in specific ways. My scientific career so far has comprised both academic (Master of Research and PhD in Molecular Biology) and industrial (drug discovery and development) experience, giving me a unique set of skills and experiences, which enabled me to start my own company.

 

The focus of my work

 

Scientifically, huge advancements have been made in our understanding of the ageing process and numerous interventions have now been identified that extend healthspan; the number of years a person lives in good health without suffering frailty or disease. As a result, there has been major investment and interest within the pharmaceutical industry into developing these interventions into therapies (mostly drugs) to promote healthspan. Unfortunately, as with any pharmaceutically regulated product, such therapies will take years to develop at great cost despite a large ageing population that could benefit from these advances now.

 

I co-founded Nuchido Laboratories to bring such science-based products to market.

 

No other company is bringing together innovation in scientific knowledge from biogerontology, with proven expertise in efficient molecular discovery, to develop products with an emphasis on healthy ageing.

 

The challenges

 

As a scientist I have always worked at the forefront of discovery. I sit in a unique position where I am continually exposed to ground-breaking findings and results. However, as a woman and a mother I have faced an altogether different set of challenges.

 

Throughout this journey, I have witnessed first-hand the difficulties women face in both science and business.

 

I fell pregnant with my first child while studying for my Masters degree. Despite completing my studies and receiving a distinction, I was actively discouraged from returning to complete my PhD due to my ‘personal situation’.

 

Despite this, I returned to university and continued my studies. Unfortunately, this was disrupted when my daughter contracted meningitis and was seriously ill for six months, again resulting in further discrimination and also self-doubt surrounding the balance of career versus parenting.

 

Despite everything, I successfully completed my PhD to a high standard and undertook a career in drug development.

 

To date, I have raised hundreds of thousands of pounds of investment, brought together a diverse team comprising academic scientists, bioinformaticians and marketing professionals, filed three patents based on our innovative scientific results and appointed a scientific advisory board led by internationally renowned biogerontologists.

 

As CEO, I have personally led the direction of the business and represent our company both nationally and internationally.

 

This progress hasn’t been linear and it hasn’t been easy – I have to manage my time very carefully to balance my work and home lives. But I have proved it is possible to merge the demands of motherhood, science and commerce.

My advice

 

I believe my success is due to my inherently optimistic and determined personality which have allowed me to steer around adversity and discrimination.

 

Unfortunately, many women will ultimately succumb to this pressure and discrimination, failing to reach their full potential.

 

My advice is simple: do not give up.

 

 

 




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