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STEM Futures: Life and Health Sciences

The Life and Health sciences sector is one of Northern Ireland’s (NI) most important sectors. The sector combines all elements of Science and Technology that contribute to the discovery and development of products for the healthcare and wellbeing of humans and animals. Northern Ireland as it is globally recognised for its expertise in this sector!

Explore Life and Health sciences further, including its future opportunities here...

Randox Laboratories

Randox Laboratories has 25 offices and employ 850 staff worldwide. Its Northern Ireland offices are situated on the shores of Lough Neagh in four unassuming farm buildings. Once inside, however, you enter a state-of-the-art environment. Committed to revolutionising healthcare in the 21st century, Randox reinvests 15% of its annual profits in research and development, and its diagnostic kits are used in over 30,000 laboratories in 130 countries.

Randox Laboratories Science

Clinical chemistry is the study and analysis of bodily fluids. Randox specialises in this area of science, manufacturing diagnostic machines and chemical tests that identify and monitor diseases, such as cardiovascular disease.

Randox Laboratories Technology

With some illnesses, speed and accuracy can mean the difference between life and death. So diagnostic laboratories strive to improve the testing process so doctors can diagnose and treat illnesses faster and give patients the best chance for recovery. At Randox, they’ve met this need by developing a diagnostic kit that allows 180 simultaneous tests to be carried out using a single body fluid sample. They call it Biochip Array Technology.

Warner Chilcott

Warner Chilcott is a global pharmaceutical company that is headquartered in Ardee, Ireland and has a local office located in Larne, Northern Ireland. Focusing on the prevention and treatment of gastroenterological, dermatological and urological conditions as well as women's health issues, its medications are sold throughout North America and Western Europe.

Using its expertise in chemistry, formulation, clinical operations and regulation, employees in its 12 offices strive to improve and develop drugs to aid doctors and patients everywhere.

Warner Chilcott Science

Everything in our world is made up of elements: our bodies, buildings, the air we breathe, plants and animals, our favourite gadgets and so on. All elements are represented on the periodic table. And when elements come together, they form compounds.

In the town of Larne, one company works with elements and compounds on a daily basis, combining these to form the ingredients in the many medicines we use.

Warner Chilcott Technology

When a new drug is in development, technology plays a major role in testing. For example, microscopes are used to examine the shapes of the particles within the tablets in order to confirm how well the drug will be able to be absorbed by the body. Pharmacologists also rely on technology to ensure that a tablet will perform the way the formulation team envisions and that it’s free from impurities.

Life and Health Sciences Sector Profile

The life and health sciences sector is one of Northern Ireland's (NI) most important sectors. The sector combines all elements of Science and Technology that contribute to the discovery and development of products for the healthcare and wellbeing of humans and animals. Key fields in the life and health sciences sector include biology, biomedical, pharmacy, audiology and optometry.

Jobs in the Life and Health Sciences sector

The life and health science sector in NI employs around 4,000 people, many of which are high value jobs. Employment levels in the sector have increased rapidly in recent years. Some examples of jobs in the life and health science sector are provided below.

Analytical chemist
Bioinformatics programmer
Bioinformatics analyst
Biomedical engineer
Chemical engineer
Chemical laboratory technician
Chemical process technician
Clean room operative
Clinical chemist
Clinical engineer
Clinical technician
Clinical test developer
Clinical trials assistant
Computational biologists
E-health software developer

E-health engineer
Epidemiologist Ecologist
Field trials officer
Forensic scientist
Instrument technician
Laboratory technician
Medical device designer
Medical device engineer
Medical illustrator
Medical physicist
Medical product tester
Measurement control technician
Nanotechnology researcher

Polymer chemist
Polymer technician
Remote sensor operative
Remote drug delivery operator
Robotics technician
Telehealth developer
Science writer
Sensor designer
Sterile services technician
Validation technician
Micro biologist
Packaging designer
Plant breeder/geneticist
Polymer Chemist
Process development technologist
Quality assurance tester
Savoury flavourists
Soil scientist
Supply chain manager

Who are the employers in the Life and Health Sciences sector?

There are over 60 businesses in Northern Ireland who are in the life and health sciences sector. These include medical companies, scientific research companies and laboratories. Examples include:

Randox Laboratories
HSC Innovations
lmac Diagnostics
Fusion Antibodies
MDS Pharma Services

Warner Chilcott
ST&D Ltd
James Leckey Design
Blue Scope Medical Technologies

Tomcat Systems
Health Tek
Quality Healthcare at Home

Studying in the Life and Health Sciences sector

At School

Many of the subjects studied at school can set you on the right path for a career in life and health sciences sector, for example, Science and Technology and Mathematics.

Further and Higher Education

There are many health and life science related courses available both at further and higher education levels. Some examples are:

Biomedical science
Children, families and community health
Chemical engineering
Clinical chemistry
Clinical physiology
Clinical technology
Cosmetic science

Dental technology
Forensic sciences
Health and social care
Health Studies

Plant Science
Speech and Language Therapy

For more information on further and higher education courses visit: Further Education (FE) Colleges, Queens University, Belfast and/or Ulster University.

Future of the Life and Health Sciences sector

The future of the life and health sciences sector looks very promising, especially in Northern Ireland as it is globally recognised for its expertise in the sector. Experts in the industry have identified six key future market opportunities in the life and health sciences sector:

  • Stratified medicine
  • Connected Health/Telemedicine
  • Meeting the needs of an ageing population
  • Management of chronic diseases
  • Prevention of disease and ill health
  • Dealing with new infectious diseases/viruses

Global issues and trends:

  • More people getting diseases
  • More new diseases/viruses
  • Resistance of today's antibiotics
  • Globalisation
  • Innovation (incl. technology) and scientific progress
  • Ageing population

STEM Futures

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