The art of being a nutraceuticals scientist
“It’s a good conversation starter,” says Dr Miriam Ferrer of her job title. “People say ‘food supplements? That’s just cheap vitamins’. Then I tell them all about it.”
Dr Ferrer is Head of New Product Development at Cambridge Nutraceuticals, a company that makes health supplements with proven clinical benefits.
The company says: “If it isn’t supported by data, we won’t sell it.”
In this episode of the Career Conversations podcast series, Dr Ferrer tells us all about her role and how she ended up in the field of nutraceuticals.
Her love of science began when she was a teenager and watched a documentary about the double helix.
“I wanted to do genetic engineering,” she says. “I was told I had to study biology, so I did.”
She studied at the University of Barcelona before securing a position at the Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge: “The very first thing you see when you go in is the pictures of all the Nobel Prize winners. So no pressure!”
Dr Ferrer decided that she wanted to lay down some roots in Cambridge, something she says is not always easy to do as a scientist.
“With science, you end up having to travel, which is great to some extent,” she says. “But at some point you might want to start a family and not keep moving from one place to another.”
She got her current job at Cambridge Nutraceuticals in 2017 and has not looked back since.
“The products we develop have a lot of scientific research behind them,” she explains. “I am able to read through all of that and say whether or not I agree with the science.
“I can also use my expertise to help the marketing team translate the scientific knowledge into layman’s terms and communicate that to our customers.”
Listen to the full episode to find out exactly what a nutraceutical is, why Dr Ferrer thinks it is possible to balance both science and art within your career, and how much you can expect to earn if you follow a career path similar to hers.
Dr Miriam Ferrer, Head of New Product Development, Cambridge Nutraceuticals
Miriam Ferrer studied Biology at the University of Barcelona (Spain) and later at the Biochemistry Department of Wageningen University (Netherlands). She then moved to the Vrije Universiteit of Amsterdam to start her PhD, which focused on cancer gene therapy. After graduating she took a post-doctoral research position at the prestigious MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge to work on BRCA1, a DNA repair protein involved in breast cancer.
Miriam decided to move into industry and went on to work for nine years at Abcam, a leading supplier of research reagents for life scientists. Her roles included Business Development Associate and Product Manager for biochemical kits.
Looking for a change, she took on her current position at Cambridge Nutraceuticals, which commercialises premium supplements under the brand FutureYou Cambridge. Her scientific background helps her to evaluate research data and develop effective supplements that are backed by science.