Completion date: PhD (non-clinical) 1997
Dr Isla Furlong completed her PhD at The Institute of Cancer Research in 1997. She now works as a patent attorney, specialising in advising start-up companies and academic institutes on biopharmaceutical patent issues.
Isla’s PhD focused on apoptosis – how a cell triggers its own death. Her work led to a number of discoveries, shedding new light on understanding this important process that can go wrong in cancer. With very fond memories of her experience at the institute, she says:
“The ICR was such an exciting place to be. I enjoyed many opportunities including attending international conferences and working in Spain collaborating on a research project. I’ve made lifelong friends and we are all still in touch 20 years on.”
“I particularly enjoyed being there when our lab was collaborating with the Royal Marsden Hospital on an early clinical trial for a potential gene therapy treatment. It was exciting that members of my lab were working on real melanoma samples – enabling me to see first-hand that research going inside our lab was being directly transferred to patients,” she adds.
Over her career to date, Isla has worked as a patent attorney in private practice and within in-house patent departments for companies including GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). Here, she led on the patenting portfolio and strategy for biopharmaceuticals, including domain and monoclonal antibodies. She has also advised several other companies that are developing new cancer treatments.
Isla is now Head of Patents at Stratagem Intellectual Property Management Ltd, a firm of patent and trademark attorneys specialising in giving strategic patent advice to clients including start-up companies and academic institutes. “I very much enjoy my current role as it is full of endless challenges and requires me to keep up to date with the latest advances in scientific research,” she says.
Her biggest current challenge is to juggle raising a family whilst also managing her busy work schedule. But looking back to her time at the ICR, she says: “I was particularly inspired by my supervisor, Professor Mary Collins, who was such a strong female role model – effortlessly managing her busy work commitments whilst also raising a young family.”
“I feel so lucky to have had so many great opportunities when I was at the ICR, which have really helped me to get where I am now,” she adds.