Blog 10 Feb 2023 

Meet the Team: Amira Ali, Apprentice Scientist

As an Apprentice Scientist at CPI, I’m doing fascinating work both inside and outside the lab, from running DNA purifications to organising EDI events.

Amira Ali

Amira Ali

Apprentice Scientist

I’m an Apprentice Scientist in biologics at CPI, where I work in the downstream processing team. I’m working towards a degree in biotechnology at Newcastle College University Centre.

I came to CPI to do my degree apprenticeship after spending 2 years working in tax. I enjoyed my previous job but having done A Levels in chemistry, biology and maths, science felt like the right route. 

Doing a degree apprenticeship has been a great way to learn. I study the theory and then put it into practice immediately afterwards in the lab, cementing my learning. There are different targets in the apprenticeship (knowledge, skills, behaviours) and I feel like this helps me to become a more well-rounded scientist. One of the best features of my apprenticeship is that I rotate between four biologics teams: downstream processing, analytical, upstream processing and molecular. This allows me to learn about each team and understand the fundamentals of what they do and helps me to decide which route to take. 

In the lab, I work on purifying RNA, DNA and protein samples as well as homogenisation, filtration and chromatography steps. My favourite part of the job though is improving medicine production. For me, work has to be purposeful and I like the purpose behind this particular strand of work. The end user is a patient who will benefit from an improved medicine so knowing that what I’m doing is improving quality of life or even saving a life, is incredibly inspiring. 

Outside of the lab, I spend time working on improving equality, diversity and inclusion (ED&I) at CPI, a subject I’m incredibly passionate about. I’m part of two of our ED&I affinity groups: I co-chair the disabilities, hidden conditions and carers group and I’m also part of the EmbRACE (Religion, Culture and Ethnicity) group. 

In these groups, I get to work on different projects. For instance, I’ve run a webinar on Black History Month and organised physical installations for Eid across different CPI locations. I run events for the disabilities, hidden conditions and carers group, focusing on improving knowledge and creating a safer environment. CPI is working towards creating a culture of conscious inclusion and I’m very proud to be a part of this important work. Supporting teams to feel comfortable and helping people become the best versions of themselves is a highlight of my job at CPI

I feel very privileged to work at CPI and not just because of the important work I’m involved in, but also because of the incredible people that I work with. I’m lucky to be surrounded by lovely people who are highly knowledgeable and who are willing to share their industry knowledge. They’re approachable, and supportive and make coming to work fun! 

There are also a lot of really great role models at CPI. For me, as a woman in science, it’s important to be encouraged and empowered in this role. The other women around me absolutely fulfil this. They help me to feel comfortable at work and to chase opportunities for myself; they’re always cheering me on. There are many, many people I could mention but in particular, Vicky Smith has been a great role model. She’s a Principal Scientist and is an expert in many analytical techniques. She’s technically gifted and skilled and is kind and approachable. Having the support of someone like Vicky is invaluable, and I want to replicate this in my future career to inspire the generations of women who are next. 

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