Regional Group Recognises Student Achievements

This item first appeared in 2007

The close links between the University of Bristol School of Chemistry and the Bristol and South-West Regional Group are well-established, and one of the major events held throughout the year by the two bodies is the Mike Rothwell Symposium, wherein all of the undergraduate students from the School of Chemistry taking time out from their studies to work with industrial companies return to the department and give presentations upon their work. Throughout a packed day, SCI judges listen, along with a staff and student audience, to the talks, and choose three at the end of the day to be awarded prizes for excellence. In return for their hard work in the preparation and delivery of an excellent talk, the winning students are awarded a framed certificate, one years membership to the SCI, and a cheque to boost their bank accounts. The winners are then invited to return and present their work once more when, several months later, they are presented with the prizes they have won. So it was that the Bristol and South-West group were recently treated to three fascinating presentations by the current Mike Rothwell prize-winners: Caroline Berry, Tim Dale and Sarah Eastwood.

All three students gave excellent presentations outlining their work (within the boundaries of confidentiality agreements, of course!), and dealt expertly with all the questions that were sent in their direction. Caroline spoke of her time working for Pfizer, looking at particle characterisation in order to understand the behaviour of carrier materials for use in inhalation therapies, tackling ailments such as asthma and COPD. Her project focussed upon development of novel, quicker analytical techniques for assessment of particle behaviour. 

Tim Dale outlined the background behind his Novartis-based project, investigating kinases as drug targets. He eloquently explained the involvement of kinases in in vivo ATP processes, and paid particular attention to the well-known drug Glivec as an example of a kinase inhibitor with only minor side-effects. Sarah Eastwood, who spent her year away from academia working with the ion-channel-based drug discovery company Xention, fascinated the audience with her investigations towards remedies for atrial fibrillation, the most common cause of cardiac arrhythmia. The condition, she explained, currently has no satisfactory or selective treatment, yet affects 8 million sufferers worldwide, and cost the NHS here in the U.K. £1 bn per annum, including patient care.

As always, the most impressive element to these student presentations was the professionalism with which the students had clearly taken to their widely differing areas of pharmaceutical investigation, and the eloquence with which they were able to communicate their knowledge. At the reception afterwards, as SCI members and university students mingled, many took the opportunity to ask further questions and comment on how much they enjoyed the event.

Derek Gillespie
Honorary Recorder, Bristol and South-West Regional Group

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