My Story: Christene Leiper the wild Call of
AUSTRALIAN Christene Leiper realised that Scotland was the place for her when she stayed in rural Aberdeen while attending a medical conference back in 1998 and staying with her husband’s family. She told TalentScotland about her move
from Sydney to Dundee and setting up her own clinical trials company.
Tell us about your background? I’m originally from Sydney with a background in nuclear medicine. I’m an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences and have worked in hospitals and universities across Australia, so I’ve experience of a wide range of therapeutic areas. I completed my PhD in both Sydney and
Queensland Universities developing a Positive Ventilation Delivery System to diagnose Pulmonary Embolism (PE) for ICU patients that are ventilated. My work centred around the use of Technegas which is a radioactive aerosol administered to ventilated patients for the diagnosis of PE. This went on to be adopted worldwide and has saved many lives as a result.
What attracted you to Scotland? Two things really: the natural beauty of the place, and the fact that my husband Stephen grew up in Scotland. We’ve known each other since we were teenagers as his parents left Edinburgh for Australia in 1969. As both Stephen and I have good experience
in our fields, we were confident we would be able to find jobs in Scotland, so we left Australia for Dundee in 2003.
“Since setting up the company it’s been all work, but we are now making time to enjoy life”
How did you find working in Scotland? I have found there are lots of opportunities for people with either a life sciences or medical background. Shortly after arriving, I started work on the first Scottish Stroke Audit based at the Western General Hospital and the University of Edinburgh developing standards for stroke treatment. It was great as I had to travel around the whole of Scotland and it was really satisfying later to see that so many specialised stroke units have opened up as a result of this work. After the funding finished, I worked for
Marie Curie Cancer Care and then went on to work for a clinical trials company in Glasgow as Director of Research. Although this company went out of business
two years later, it gave Stephen and myself the motivation to be the masters of our own destiny and use our own extensive experience to start up our own business.
How has your business developed? The company is called Onorach, which means “honest, honourable and plain dealing” in
Scots Gaelic and perfectly illustrates our strong focus on how we conduct our business and on being a Scottish company. As a clinical trials company we support our
clients by setting up and delivering Phase I to IV clinical trials covering not just drugs but also medical devices and cell-based therapeutics. We started trading in September 2010
and since then it’s taken over our lives! We’ve won contracts, but it’s a very difficult market so networking and attending conferences, as well as applying for European Commission FP7 research funding projects, has really helped to get our profile known in the market.
So how have you found living in Scotland? Since setting up the company it’s been all work, but we are now making time to enjoy life, like taking big walks in the countryside at the weekend. After all, it’s the main reason we decided to come and live in Scotland!
For information on all you need to know about living, working and studying in Scotland, visit: www.talentscotland.com
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