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News

The mysterious double life of an Editorial Services Director

June 2016

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Collecting metric data from ancient Egyptian skeletons curated at the Peabody Museum, Harvard University, Boston. 

Dr Emily Marlow | Editorial Services Director

Like everyone who works in medical communications, I am passionate about medical science. But unlike a lot of people, I am also fascinated with the human skeleton and what you can learn about a deceased person just from looking at their bones. 

It was during my BSc degree in Biomedical Science that I developed an interest in archaeology, anthropology, and human osteology. I read an article about a forensic anthropologist excavating mass graves in Rwanda, Bosnia, and Kosovo. It was a haunting description, but also one filled with a sense of hope, particularly because her testimony helped to bring some of the perpetrators of the genocides to justice.

In 2005, I began an MSc degree in forensic anthropology at the University of Bradford, and after a year of intensive study of the musculo-skeletal system, forensic entomology and pathology, and archaeological excavation techniques, I graduated with a Distinction. However, my path turned back to medical science in November 2006 when I was offered the role of Trainee Medical Writer at Porterhouse Medical.

A little under three years later I had been promoted to Senior Medical Writer, but had also developed an itch to go back to university and examine more bones. This is exactly what I did thanks to the Managing Directors, Messrs Brian Parsons and Jon Hallows, who gave me special permission to work remotely and on a part-time basis. I therefore moved to Manchester in September 2010 and began a PhD within the KNH Centre for Biomedical Egyptology at the University of Manchester, working on a research question that combined my passion for forensic anthropology with a long-standing interest in ancient Egypt. At the end of my PhD in 2014, I was honoured by Brian and Jon again when I was offered the opportunity to return to Porterhouse Medical full-time in the new role of Editorial Services Director. It was an offer I couldn’t refuse.

Now, two years on from my decision to return to Porterhouse full-time, I have many achievements I am proud of, both in medical communications and in the field of human osteology. I manage a team of wonderful medical writers and editors, who make me proud on a daily basis. I gave a lecture to undergraduates, graduates and faculty members in the Department of Anthropology at Harvard University. I provided consultancy services to the Manchester Metropolitan University on the content of a medical writing module for a new MSc degree in Science Communication. I’m a member of several archaeological excavation projects, both in the UK and Egypt. Most recently, I published two papers in the peer-reviewed Bioarchaeology of the Near East journal. These papers, entitled ‘Metric sex estimation of ancient Egyptian skeletal remains’ (Part I and Part II), present new standards for the metric estimation of sex of ancient Egyptian skeletons that I hope will be adopted by the bioarchaeological community currently working in Egypt. These papers can be accessed here: http://www.anthropology.uw.edu.pl/10/bne-10-01.pdf and http://www.anthropology.uw.edu.pl/10/bne-10-02.pdf.

As for the future, I’m hoping to continue with my jaunts to Egypt, to excavate more burials and put some of my own methods into practice… if Porterhouse can spare me!