Student Placement - Amgen

Annabel Luke - Amgen

I study mathematics at the University of Bath and decided to take a placement year between my second and third year. I completed a 13 month placement working as a statistician for the pharmaceutical company Amgen. 

When I started university, I didn’t know what I wanted to do after I graduated. I decided to complete a placement year to experience working in the real world and to help me imagine my future. My placement has been a great way to learn new skills and I’ve enjoyed having a break from studying. I’m excited to return to university next year and I feel a lot more engaged with the course as I have seen where it can lead and how methodologies I’ve learnt can be applied.


Whilst looking for placements, the idea of working in the pharmaceutical industry really appealed to me. It’s a combination of two things that I would want from a prospective career: helping people and statistics. I was fortunate to obtain a placement at Amgen where my work was split across the Data Science department and Biostatistics department within the Centre for Design and Analysis.

My Data Science projects were completed under the supervision of Prof. Dr Vladimir Anisimov. I mainly worked on helping to develop multiple mathematical models for modelling an event driven trial. I tested these models by running multiple simulations and producing histograms of the results.

As I had completed so many different simulations, I was then able to help other students with simulation tasks for other trials, which I loved. It was great to see how some of the simulations could be adapted and applied to real life trials. I’ve worked remotely for the whole year, so really enjoyed these opportunities to collaborate with others, as I’ve missed out on the social element of office working due to covid-19.

I also worked on numerous tasks within biostatistics. My favourite project was automating the process for calculating the end date of the time to event trial by calculating the event rate and extrapolating from already recorded data. On another study, I simulated data to investigate a possible issue with the regression model. I enjoyed applying my own ideas to this project and collaborating with others about issues and next steps. There were many different parts to these projects meaning there was a lot to consider and different tasks to complete, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Throughout this year, I developed and expanded my programming skills. I learnt to use LaTeX, a software for document writing, and SAS, for which I achieved a qualification as a SAS base programmer. I have also become more familiar with R. Amgen also provided training on various relevant statistical topics which I was able to attend, for example multiplicity training. 

I’m now considering a possible masters degrees in statistics and would like to return to the pharmaceutical industry in the future.  

I would recommend a placement year to university students! It’s a great opportunity to work out what you like, learn new skills, and leave university with a clearer idea of what you want to look for in a career.  My advice to other students would be to remember everyone’s experience will be different and people enjoy different things, so don’t worry if you don’t love everything about your placement year. Also, don’t be afraid to speak up if there are other things you want to get involved in. Be yourself, smile and make the most of a year out from university!

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