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5 minutes with...Caroline Copeland

Dr Caroline Copeland is a Lecturer in Pharmaceutical Medicine in the School of Cancer & Pharmaceutical Sciences. We took 5 minutes with Caroline to learn more about her career and life outside of work.

5 minutes with caroline copeland

Briefly, tell us about your background and career up to this point?

When I was a high school student I knew I was interested in medicine and healthcare, but a short work experience stint at my local hospital soon showed me I was not destined to be a medical doctor – I’m far too squeamish! A BSc and subsequent PhD in Pharmacology at UCL revealed a specific interest in neuropharmacology, with my research now focussed on the safety profiles of psychoactive drugs. I hold a Lectureship in Pharmaceutical Medicine here at King's, teaching on the associated Clinical Pharmacology and Drug Development Science MSc programmes.

What is a typical day like for you? How did this change due to COVID-19?

Pre-COVID I would cycle to work, and I really miss starting off my day this way – the walk from the kitchen to the study isn’t quite the same as sailing over Blackfriars bridge on my dutch bike with great views of the city. The content of my days however are pretty much the same - filled with lectures, research and admin – but of course now almost exclusively conducted online. It was hard to adapt into this space at first but I think it now works really well. In fact, some things have been facilitated by the online teaching format, such as internationally based guest lecturers, so I imagine post-pandemic we may move into an integrated online-in person blended format.

What do you think people in the School would find most surprising about you?

In my free time, I am the principal cornet player leading a 40 person-strong brass band. We usually do a variety of performances on bandstands over the summer months and come winter what seems to be an infinite number of carolling gigs. Jingle Bells will forever be ingrained in my brain!

What advice would you give to your 18-year-old self?

Take that gap year! I umm-ed and ahh-ed about whether to take one and ended up not doing it. It’s about one of the only times in your life you can take a year out – if you can afford it, do it.

Do you have any current projects that you’d like to tell us about?

There are two broad classes of antihistamines, those that can be used to control allergic reactions (e.g. Claritin) and those that can be used as sedatives to induce sleep (e.g. Nytol). One of my MPharm project students recently published her dissertation which revealed a marked increase in deaths in the UK associated with sedative antihistamine use, particularly when used in conjunction with other sedative medications such as opiates or benzodiazepines. We are now extending this research to analyse the involvement of sedating antihistamines in drug-driving fatalities in the UK.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

I am a relatively new academic at King's and I am looking forward to expanding my research group with PhD students, post-docs and visiting fellows. Ideally, I would like to have an integrated research team which will take real-world epidemiological evidence of drug-drug interactions in humans and perform reverse pharmacology studies to understand their underlying cellular and molecular processes.

Who inspires you most and why?

As an academic, I’ve worked in several labs over the years and have seen how things can be run well, but also run badly. My PhD supervisor had a small team, but a very productive one. I aspire to be able to lead such an effective (and happy!) academic research group.


First career you ever dreamed of having: Postman

Favourite quote: Don’t get bitter, just get better.

If you could spend a day in someone else’s shoes, they would be: RuPaul

Your happy place: Praia de Monte Clérigo, Portugal.

In this story

Caroline  Copeland

Caroline Copeland

Senior Lecturer in Pharmacology & Toxicology

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