About CSci

  • Dr. Robert T. Jenkins
Back to the results
Dr. Robert T. Jenkins
Featured Profile: 
At A Glance
Licensed Body: 
Scientist Type: 
Service provider/Operational
First Degree: 
BSc Chemistry & Biology
Clinical Research Scientist / Clinical Research Project Manager
Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
Pet Hates: 
Inconsiderate/dangerous drivers, unnecessary paperwork, amount of time wasted due to institutional initiatives begun without taking the time to think the matter through completely
Burning Ambition: 
To return to Wales one last time
It would be the ability to bring to the peoples and nations of this Earth peace, good health, abundant happiness, and love
Big Picture
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? 
I wanted a military career as a fighter/fighter bomber pilot like my father. There’s nothing quite like fast jets and the smell of jet fuel!
Who or what inspired you to become a scientist? 
This was largely due to the inspiration of one of my professors while I was an undergraduate at Christopher Newport College, Professor Jean E. Pugh, a zoologist and fantastic lecturer. I got hooked on molecular sciences and invertebrate zoology
What do you love about your job and being a “scientist”? 
My greatest pleasure comes from developing interventions that might improve medical practice and the well-being of patients
What would you change? 
I would like to have a more equitable form of price controls on prescription drugs.
What qualifications did you take at school? 
U.S. High School Diploma (Science Stream)
Why did you choose your first degree subject? 
My first degree was a B.Sc. in chemistry with a minor in biology. I chose chemistry because it was the most direct route to getting training in analytical chemistry
Do you have a Masters or PhD? If not, was it difficult to demonstrate Masters-level equivalence in order to achieve CSci? 
Yes, I have an M.Sc. degree in analytical chemistry and a Ph.D. degree in organic chemistry as well as a Fellowship in Clinical Biochemistry, Clinical Research Fellowships in Pathology and in Medicine, and a Clinical Scholarship in Medicine
How do you describe your job when you meet people at a party? 
Because of my training after my Ph.D., I describe myself as a Clinical Biochemist (same as Chemical Pathologist in the U.K.) working in clinical research
What is ‘cutting-edge’ about your work? 
The cutting-edge aspect of the research is the development of more efficacious medicines for the treatment of disease.
What are the biggest implications your work will/could have in the future? 
The most important implication is that a new medicine will potentially expedite the curing of a patient’s disease, improve their quality of life, and, hopefully, help reduce the cost of health care
Describe some of the highlights of your average day. 
The main highlights would be the opportunity to advise and/or to mentor more junior staff.
Describe briefly how your career has progressed to date. 
After completing my Ph.D. under the supervision of the late Professor A.H. Jackson at University College, Cardiff - as it was then – I returned to Canada, spent four plus years in fellowship positions followed by three years as an Assistant Professor of Pathology and then joined the pharmaceutical industry. So, in summary, I have over 17 years of experience in clinical research for the pharmaceutical industry, eight years of experience as a principal investigator in hospital-based, academic research into inflammatory diseases, and if one includes the research for my advanced degrees, over six years of bench research in analytical chemistry and organic chemistry. 
How is your job cross-disciplinary? 
My job is cross-disciplinary in that involves bench-level research (i.e., pharmacokinetics), clinical trials for safety and efficacy involving normal controls and patients, and biostatistics.
How well is your job compensated? What is the starting salary for your field, and how much can this be expected to rise? 
Compensation depends very much on the company or institution involved and the position in question. A new Clinical Research Scientist with little or no experience might expect GBP 32,000 (converted from the equivalent in Canadian dollars). This might escalate to GBP 58,000 or more over a career, but again, this is subject to many variables.
How do you see your field developing over the next 5-10 years? 
Much will depend upon the fate of the pharmaceutical and biotech companies. I expect to see some additional mergers and further consolidation, and perhaps the complete disappearance of some companies. I do not expect to see the role of the Clinical Research Scientist to change to any great degree, but I do expect to see a fair bit of movement of clinical research away from the traditional pharmaceutical companies to CRO’s (Contract Research Organizations).
What’s the most unexpected thing about your job? 
The most unexpected thing is top level management requiring clinical research personnel already working at capacity to do more, including work formerly handled by more junior and often more senior staff, and with fewer resources but the same fixed timelines, thus causing burnout
What’s the biggest achievement of your career so far? 
I have mixed feeling about this. It would have to be either my appointment as an Assistant Professor and teaching renal pathophysiology along with getting about ten papers published in peer reviewed medical journals. On the other hand, being the Canadian Clinical Research Scientist for a multinational study of a drug for the treatment of an inflammatory disease was also quite fulfilling.
Would you say you have a good standard of living/ work-life balance? 
My standard of living is fine, but unfortunately, except for my few hobbies, my work has become my life
What do your friends and family think about your job? 
Most are quite impressed. They, of course, do not know just how absolutely mundane it can be.
What kind of hobbies or extracurricular activities do you do to relax? 
I listen to music, mostly classical and light classical, do some photography, read a fair bit of history, and study the Welsh language and the Bible
Why did you choose to apply for CSci and what do you value most about being a Chartered Scientist? 
I chose to apply for the C.Sci. credential for the same reason that I applied for the C.Chem. credential. It is because it shows one’s continuing dedication to maintaining the currency of one’s knowledge and remaining a credit to one’s profession.
What is the value of professional bodies? 
Please see my answer to Question 1. To this, I would like to add that the same or similar programs are available in Canada and the United States of America but to a much more limited extent. Professional bodies also help keep unqualified persons from claiming to be something they are not, and to some degree facilitate the provision of CPD. They also, if they are wise, actively represent the profession in question to governmental authorities and other institutions.
How important is CPD? What do you think of the revalidation process in ensuring that CSci is a mark of current competence? 
I believe that the revalidation process is important, but I am not certain that the current process is actually evaluating current competence. There is no question that CPD is important to a scientist’s career. There is also no question that, at least over here, most companies are not as willing as they once were to financially support such activities. So, whether one is talking about taking a CPD course or university-level course or, perhaps, team teaching at a local university, companies are generally not supportive and the scientist is left to his/her own devices. One advantage to working in the pharmaceutical or chemical industries is that there are multiple meetings each year for medical and chemical professionals where one can add to one’s knowledge
Advice & Reflection
What words of wisdom would you give someone interested in getting into your field? 
Do as much background research and introspection as you can to be sure this is really what you want to do for a career. Also, one should get as much information as one can about the company one is considering joining and its internal environment
How important is the mentoring process in your field and to you personally? 
Mentoring is very important. At least to my knowledge, here there is no such thing as a university program for training Clinical Research Scientists. I very much enjoy mentoring probably because I love teaching
How would you define “professionalism”? 
When asked the same question some years ago, I fell back on some of the qualities taught in a leadership course taken in the dim past. I believe that there are basically four vital characteristics. These have often been discussed in different ways by others throughout history. Above all, one must be competent – that is absolutely essential. If one does not know what one is doing it will show in a very short time – in neon – and one’s reputation will be in the trash can. One must not defer tasks to others because one is unwilling or too “busy” to do the job one’s self. One needs to be confident so that one’s subordinates do not get that “lost” feeling, particularly during difficult times. One should never allow a subordinate to feel alone. Finally, one needs to be caring for the wellbeing and morale of the people reporting to you is at least as vital, if not more so, as your own. One should never choose to ignore someone if it is obvious that the person is having a rough go of it, regardless of the cause. One can always offer in confidence a willing ear even if one cannot suggest a solution. To all this, I would add never be afraid to put forward your own ideas but, even if one knows one’s suggestion and reasoning are absolutely correct, have the common sense not to belabour the point if is not accepted. Lastly, never as a “professional” either fresh out of university or after many years of experience think that you know everything. Believe me, you don’t! This kind of behaviour can quickly become a “career ender”
What would you do differently if you were starting out in your career now? 
This I cannot answer because I prefer not to waste time thinking along those lines. I learned a long time ago it is a fruitless exercise that at best only leads to grief. There is an old saying that goes, “Three things one cannot change are the time of the tides, the stars in their courses, and the path that leads from the giving of the pledged word.” And, maybe there is a fourth item that should be added to this list for once a day is lived, no matter what happens, it cannot be changed
What would you like people to remember about your life as a scientist? 
I would like people rather to remember me as a person who did his job to the utmost of his professional ability and helped others whenever they asked for assistance, even when it meant learning a new subject area to do it
Back to the results