First link in the chain
Pamela Wilson, with a bachelor’s degree in biology from Lehigh University, Pennsylvania, has chosen Drug Discovery as her area of specialisation within the MSc in Pharmaceutical Sciences.
The search for new drug candidates is often carried out in uncharted territory. In what can be a nerve-wracking and dramatic ’drug hunt’, a research team gradually moves in on an active substance that must be isolated, further developed and tested. I want to be there when the exploration begins, which is why I selected Drug Discovery. It is exciting to work with drug development at an early stage when it is often crucial to get a really good idea that is perhaps a bit untraditional.
I see it as a huge strength that students working on their master’s degree in the pharmaceutical sciences have widely different academic backgrounds. And we who come from foreign universities also have other approaches to the material. There is a great deal of synergy in the programme and group projects and presentations provide good opportunities for us to bring our different backgrounds into play. It can provide the catalyst for creative thinking that is necessary when you’re the first link in the chain.
Dialogue and discussion
I have never been in doubt about my choice of Drug Discovery, even though there are also interesting subjects in the other two areas of programme specialisation. It is great that the framework is so flexible that you can plan an individual course of study. At the School of Pharmaceutical Sciences you get your hands dirty from day one. In the USA theory and laboratory practice are strictly separate, but here they merge and there are lots of hands-on projects that give us a greater understanding of the subject. For example a course like drug formulation is unique and has been an important part of building my academic foundation. There is also a lot of freedom in Danish laboratories and classrooms – you discuss with your teachers and there is room to think for yourself.
"I want to be there when the exploration begins, which is why I selected Drug Discovery. It is exciting to work with drug development at an early stage when it is often crucial to get a really good idea that is perhaps a bit untraditional.
Mentor scheme opens doors
The programme provides good job opportunities for me back home in the USA, but I would like to stay in Denmark after I graduate. I dream of a research position in one of Medicon Valley’s many pharmaceutical companies. The innovative environment in the Oeresund region provides good opportunities to share knowledge. And the Scandinavian healthcare system in which everyone is registered is a perfect framework for developing clinical trials.
I have been assigned a mentor through the University of Copenhagen. She works in protein research at Novo Nordisk A/S, which gives me insight into the Danish job market. The network can help open some doors for me in future as well. My thesis project will be about designing semi-synthetic proteins, and I have already made an agreement with the research group in chemical biology at the School of Pharmaceutical Sciences.
Dynamic student environment
I came to Copenhagen for the first time as an exchange student while I was working on my bachelor’s degree, and I was sold. Copenhagen is a lovely and dynamic city – big and little at the same time. It is easy to get around, but there are masses of cultural and recreational options. Copenhagen is also a beautiful city with centuries of history. Just recently I saw a postcard that read: University of Copenhagen founded in 1479 – Columbus discovered America 13 years later. That really made me laugh!