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Master
Forensic Science
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Asim Q. Akbani, European Patent Attorney Candidate in a law firm in Munich

I started the master in Forensic Science in 2014 after completing a bachelor in Biomedical Engineering from Karachi, Pakistan. Forensic Science in Amsterdam was my first choice because it offers a unique opportunity of a multidisciplinary education together with a research specialisation according to the students’ backgrounds. Fortunately, I was accepted and awarded Amsterdam Merit Scholarship for the entire duration of the programme.

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I already had a passion for research in molecular biology but during the first year of the programme, I was drawn more towards molecular epigenetics. I found an interesting research project at ETH Zurich, Switzerland. I worked on the possibility of building a forensic detection method for the illegal use of growth promoting hormones by using DNA methylation as an epigenetic marker of oestrogen consumption. During my project, I wrote an abstract for an international epigenetics conference that was accepted for an oral presentation. I was very excited (and nervous) to share my results with some leading scientists of the world in Giardini Naxos, Italy in September 2016. From 2016 to 2019, I worked at ETH Zurich and FMI Basel in biomedical research disciplines such as neuro-epigenetics and mechanisms of DNA replication initiation, respectively.  

Currently, I am working as a European Patent Attorney Candidate (specialized in Biotech/Pharma/Life Sciences) in a law firm in Munich, Germany. A lot of people are not aware of the fact that you need a science degree (master or doctoral) and not a law degree to be a patent attorney in Europe. In fact, you cannot be a patent attorney if you do not have a science degree.  

Looking back, I am happy about my (unconventional) choices and work experiences in diverse scientific fields. It is all coming together now in my current job in which I deal with at least four different scientific inventions in one day. Presently, I am involved in Patent prosecution, opposition, appeal and infringement proceedings. I am most actively involved in EPO oppositions and appeals, particularly in complex opposition cases (both in attack and defence) with large number of opponents. I am also particularly involved in tailoring creative strategies to the differing requirements of our clients in patent application filings and worldwide prosecution. It is a demanding job, but I am happy to have found what I enjoy doing every day – this means that I am not afraid of checking my emails at least once, every day, when I am on vacation. 

My advice to future students is to set very clear goals for yourselves and maintain the right attitude to tackle the challenges of such a demanding master’s programme. If you are enthusiastic about your career and ready to work hard, you will be able to benefit from the excellent opportunities of developing your scientific and professional skills offered by this master. At the end, it’s entirely up to you to make the most of it!