As a pharmaceutical research platform is still a quite new concept in the Czech Republic, we decided to share with you how students of The Parc can benefit from having an industrial partner included in their study. Explore the cooperation with industry through the eyes of our student Eva Petříková.
Some stories from the lives of our students and alumni are already shared on our blog. This time we would like to bring closer to you what it means for us, the students and future alumni, to be a part of a pharmaceutical research platform. Especially, we would like to show how the collaboration with the industrial partner looks like in reality, so Eva shared with us her three-year experience from working on her PhD under The Parc supervision in the environment of our industrial partner. Her PhD project is focused on the preparation of solid dispersions, evaluation of their properties and suitability for drug formulation with certain active substances. And here comes the benefits of such collaboration within The Parc, because it allows us to access industrial devices and machines, which are not available at the university. Eva started to work with a mini-extruder. The device was a great asset for her work to predict the performance of solid solutions on a small scale. Furthermore, she used another technique for solid solution preparation – spray drying. These devices are placed in a laboratory with strictly controlled access, there is therefore something a bit juicier she can talk about – the whole process of getting to work in such a place. Everything started with proper training and careful planning of a “campaign.” The campaign, for example, means that special filters are installed in the department, so the active substance that is used during the campaign cannot get anywhere else. Along with the special filters goes a special suit, almost a spacesuit. When you’re entering the department during the campaign, you have to wear a first layer of protective suit which has safety gloves taped to it so no dust gets to your skin. Then comes the second layer and a special mask or helmet which covers the entire head and is attached through a hose to the filters on your belt to avoid inhalation of any active substance dust. The helmet has to fit perfectly and be securely placed. The final step is the decontamination shower, strongly resembling catastrophic movies featuring biohazardous threats. After your work is done, the “dress up scenario” reverses, you leave through the shower, dispose of the top and the base layer in separate rooms. Eva’s words to it were:
“My first experience in the campaign was unforgettable, you suddenly feel like a true scientist with a bit of sci-fi to it.”
Moreover, she is currently a leader of one of our real-life projects focused on value-added medicine. It is a literal hands-on experience with pharmaceutical development problem-solving. She manages a team of students who apply different expertise/methodology (correlating with their PhD projects) in the project solving while she contributes with her knowledge, hands-on lab experience and organisation skills. Furthermore, the results are regularly discussed with the students and industrial and academic experts in order to find a solution leading to improved medicine. She receives great support from assigned expert industry leaders, who are co-running the project with her, but on the regular meetings, usually also academic and industry supervisors of all participating students are present, which is quite the recipe for fruitful discussions and straightforward goal setting for the next terms work. In Eva’s words:
“You get a whole new perspective and idea about how these projects work in real life when someone lets you try to be in the leading position. It is wonderful that the students come up with solutions, offer their specific expertise and you can create a meaningful, diverse team. I am so grateful for such an opportunity.”
To sum it up – The Parc offers an alternative to the traditional PhD for students, who want an industrial experience, a career in industry or simply an access to advanced technologies and practical knowledge. The combination of academic research and industrial experience is unique in the Czech environment and it is close to industrial doctorates, known by many European countries. Therefore, if you are passionate about such collaboration, The Parc is a good choice. Where else you would get a sci-fi-scientist-in-a-spacesuit experience with the opportunity to lead and manage a real-life project on the top? Well … in The Parc!
September 27. 2021