Close contact with the real world

Julie Svalø Jensen, with a bachelor’s degree in Medicinal Chemistry from Aarhus University, has chosen Drug Discovery as her area of specialisation.

My bachelor’s project was about organic synthesis based on a drug for treating overactive bladder – and I found the physiology and pharmacology involved very interesting. That is how I got on the track of an MSc in Pharmaceutical Sciences. I was completely sold when I went to an introduction meeting and heard about the close cooperation with the drug industry and the many electives!

Research dream since teenage years

I dream of a research career in the drug industry – and since Copenhagen is where it is happening, I didn’t hesitate to move from Århus. I have known that I wanted to do research since I was 15 years old, and I selected the Drug Discovery line because it paves the way to a PhD project. I’m targeting pharmacology with special focus on organ-related pharmacology, statistical research planning and the study of research animals. I’ve moved away from flasks and test tubes and much closer to biological material and clinical practice. At the same time the programme gives me the opportunity to tailor a curriculum based on my personal interests.

Two publications on the way

Underway I had the opportunity to pursue an individually planned study programme where it was very much up to me to decide on content. The ability to directly influence your access to knowledge is one of the biggest plusses of the programme.

"...the School of Pharmaceutical Sciences gives you access to a large, wide-reaching network into the corners of the drug industry. Not only do the scientists know each other across the institutional boundaries but the companies are in close physical proximity as well.

Julie Svalø Jensen

My independent study was at NeuroSearch, a Scandinavian biopharmaceutical company. That turned out to be a really good idea because it paved the way for a thesis project in cooperation with the company. Once again an overactive bladder was in the spotlight, and I tested drugs on a special potassium channel in bladder tissue from rats.

I will be turning in my thesis in three weeks, and it has already generated two scientific articles that are being peer reviewed at present – which is a fantastic start to the scientific career I’ve dreamed about. I have also applied for and been granted a PhD project at Køge Hospital. Here I will have access to samples of human uterine tissue. I will be testing the influence of drugs on muscle contraction and thus will help chart a pharmacological profile of the uterus with regard to premature births. The same potassium channels will be involved and I think the project sounds incredibly exciting.

Wide-reaching network

My thesis supervisor at the School of Pharmaceutical Sciences established my connection with NeuroSearch – and the people there had contacts at Køge Hospital, where I applied for a PhD project. Everyone knows everyone else in the scientific world – and the School of Pharmaceutical Sciences gives you access to a large, wide-reaching network into the corners of the drug industry. Not only do the scientists know each other across the institutional boundaries but the companies are in close physical proximity as well. That is very different from the situation in Århus, where I got my bachelor’s degree. Having an industry close by also provides good opportunities for great student jobs. However, I have been so privileged that NeuroSearch sponsored my thesis project and I didn’t have to work while I was studying.