“I really feel that I am doing something useful and contributing to the research.”

Meet molecular Biologist Angelica Johansson who in her job as an In Vivo Laboratory Engineer helps develop new pharmaceuticals for treating Parkinson’s disease.

“I work as a consultant for a recruitment and consulting company called Dfind. Almost four months ago, I was assigned to our customer, Integrative Research Laboratories, which has its offices and laboratory in the BioTech building in Gothenburg. The company focuses on developing pharmaceuticals to treat various diseases of the brain, in particular Parkinson’s disease. I test interesting substances and reference substances on rats here and analyse how these substances affect the rats’ behaviour and how their brains are affected.

I think it’s pretty awesome to be able to extract a brain and study it. We put everything on ice to preserve it, and then we take the brains back to our own laboratory where we store them in freezers until we run the high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) analyses. Afterwards we study and process the data based on this analysis. Based on these analyses we can better understand how the brain works and thereby develop new pharmaceuticals. For me, it is central that we do so much for all humans in the world. Not only those who suffer from Parkinson’s disease, but also those close to them. For me it means my job makes an important contribution to society, something that helps humanity in the longrun.

I think the Master’s Programme in Molecular Biology perhaps does not have enough practical orientation. There is a large gap between the theory we studied and what work is like in practical terms. My education focused on microbiology, and I have not had huge benefits from this. I would have preferred more instruction on animal handling and the ethical aspects involved.  I would have liked more chemistry and would have preferred to learn more about different methods of analysis. After my education I took courses in statistics and immunology because I felt I had not learned enough about those subjects during the programme. What I especially benefited from during my education was learning about source criticism. I am not taken in by all the myths about diet and health, for example. In addition, I acquired a habit of reading research articles and learned to write and express myself in English, which is important in working life.

I have always been interested in what people and animals look like inside. The body interests me down to the cellular level. After the science programme in upper-secondary school, I considered becoming a doctor, specifically a surgeon. But I was unsure about whether I wanted to work with people in that way. As a doctor, you sometimes need to break bad news, and I thought that seemed difficult. So one day I sat browsing through the University of Gothenburg’s website, looking for various programmes, and read about the Molecular Biology Programme, which sounded really exciting. I decided to give it a try and was completely sold after the first lecture. Early in the programme I knew that I wanted to be an in vivo laboratory engineer. I really enjoy my job and feel that I am constantly developing and learning more. It is fascinating to study what animals look like inside and how different substances affect different organs. I really feel that I am doing something useful and contributing to the research.”

Angelica Johansson

Name: Angelica Johansson
Age: 26
Occupation: In vivo laboratory engineer
Education: Master’s Programme in Molecular Biology at the University of Gothenburg, degree in 2016
Place of residence: Gothenburg
Family: Partner – the rest of the family lives in Stockholm
Leisure time: Weight training and playing computer games