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Home to roost

MJ.F. Bernesidway through his Marie Curie post-doc fellowship at French pharmaceutical giant Aventis, Jose Falco Bernes got a job offer he couldn’t refuse. In January, the 29-year-old bid an emotional goodbye to Paris to put on a new lab coat at Ferrer Internacional, a leading Spanish drug firm in Barcelona. “My year in Paris was the best year of my life,” recalls Bernes. “I met a lot of interesting people and I learnt a lot.”

In addition to polishing up his French and getting acquainted with the Parisian culture, the young chemist obtained valuable first-hand research experience on projects studying Alzheimer’s disease and oncology at the firm’s state-of-the-art laboratories. “I gained a lot of experience during my time at Aventis. It is a top pharmaceutical company, with one of the best laboratories and equipment around.”

His post-doc fellowship has helped him build on the foundation in combinatorial chemistry that he laid during his PhD, which involved researching molecules with potential biological activity. “It has provided the added-value to my CV necessary to find a good job,” the Marie Curie fellow confides. “Now I am a team leader at the best pharmaceutical company in Spain.”

Although the young Spaniard was lucky enough to find suitable work fast, he suggests that the Marie Curie programme should provide future fellows with advice and help match them up to job opportunities across Europe. This will help them advance their careers and ensure that the scientific excellence they have acquired is put to good use.

Bernes is settling nicely into his new job. “I am adapting well. I now know the field and this has made it easier,” he notes. In addition to enabling him to land a top job, the post-doc fellowship has equipped him with a confidence and readiness to work anywhere in Europe.
“Now I feel I can work wherever I am needed,” he says.

Nevertheless, he admits that, for the time being, he is quite happy to be doing his bit for medical progress from the lap of his beloved Barcelona.

last update: 27-03-2003