Profile: Louise Niven, Principal Medical Writer, Aspire Scientific

louise_nivenBefore university, I didn’t know what career I wanted. I simply knew that I was intrigued by molecular biology. I decided to study Biochemistry and assumed that after my degree, the next step would become apparent. Three years in to my MBioch at Oxford University I was none the wiser about my future, but my 4th year project was a turning point. I was awarded the Final Honour School Research Prize and with the encouragement of a supportive supervisor, I applied for PhDs.

I was accepted for a DPhil in Oncology at Oxford University. It was an enjoyable four years: the repetitive nature of research and slow progress concerned me, but these doubts were overshadowed by the satisfaction I derived from writing my thesis. Following my viva, I was offered a post-doc with a Nobel Laureate in New York – an opportunity too good to refuse. By the 3rd year of my post-doc the lab had relocated to London and I was feeling uneasy about my future. I was on a four-year contract, but what next? A career in academia seemed to carry various uncertainties that I wasn’t sure I was prepared to accept. More than that, I realised that I was far happier learning (attending talks and conferences) and communicating science (preparing posters, slides and publications) than I was experimenting at the bench; I had to make a change.

I had become aware of medical writing during my DPhil and felt this was probably the change I was looking for, but I wanted to be certain. I attended a MedComms Networking careers event and made contact with Aspire Scientific. Aspire Scientific offers paid work experience in medical writing to talented individuals who are working in academia. It sounded like a great way to test the water.

Working for Aspire Scientific alongside my academic commitments was a fantastic experience. I relished the sense of accomplishment gained with completing each assignment and enjoyed the learning involved in preparing the review and clinical trials articles I was asked to draft. It was the confirmation I needed to take the plunge and apply for jobs in the medical communications industry. The constructive feedback I received at Aspire Scientific helped me to prepare for writing tests (an integral part of the application process), and my experience with them enabled me to demonstrate a genuine interest in medical writing and familiarity with the industry.

I secured a job with a London agency, specialising in continuing medical education and did not look back. Following a promotion, I was keen to vary my experience and further hone my writing skills. I was lucky enough to be offered a permanent position with Aspire Scientific, where I work on a range of medical writing projects from abstracts and manuscripts to slide decks and conference reports, as well as reviewing and editing the work of other writers. I am also involved in developing articles for Aspire Scientific’s online news resource, The Publication Plan. I am always learning at Aspire Scientific, being involved with cutting-edge therapies across diverse therapy areas, and there are plenty of career development opportunities including conferences and workshops. Moreover, the option to be home-based offers flexibility and fortuitously coincided with a change in circumstance resulting in my relocation to Newcastle. Overall, medical writing has provided a creative and rewarding outlet for my scientific skills and the variety and intellectual challenges make it a very fulfilling career. Still, I do not regret my time in research because elements of my academic work, such as researching scientific literature, preparing materials to convey results, involvement in publications and conferences, and an ability to apply scientific knowledge to various scenarios have stood me in good stead for my new career.

Company information: Aspire Scientific

Aspire Scientific is a boutique medical writing agency led by experienced medical writers, supported by our talented in-house writers and a team of academics at the forefront of their specialist fields. With an ever-expanding team, we are committed to delivering high-quality medical writing projects, with the highest ethical standards. Our offices are based in Bollington, Cheshire and Stanford in the Vale, Oxfordshire, which both lie in beautiful countryside. If you have, or are working towards a PhD, DPhil, or MD and would like more information about becoming part of our academic writing team, please get in contact by email:

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