From primary to PhD: Novartis’ learning links

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 19 Oct 2017

A SPECIAL education event has been heralded a success at Novartis, with primary-age pupils to pharma-focused degree lecturers benefiting.

The strong evening visit programme that has been a key thread in the Grimsby site’s community involvement for years welcomed a diverse mix of learners.

They enjoyed a presentation on the history, heritage and workings of the pharmaceutical giant, underlining its global role in medicine and health care, before completing a walking tour of the South Humber Bank site’s laboratories, process areas and engineering workshops. 

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Daria Hollinshead, who co-ordinates the programme, said: “Like every organisation we are keen to be as effective as possible, and we get numerous requests from education about our evening visit programme, which is so successful, We tried to bring the requests together, which made for a very diverse gathering.

“It was a really broad mix from school children to university students and lecturers. We have quite an active education group on site, and we want to manage our business needs as well as fulfil a role to support the local community. The aim was to contextualise science, and open students’ eyes to some of the opportunities and careers.”

It was helped by the mix of representatives who enabled the evening. 

“Our guides and people supporting the event also came to us via different routes, some started from school and studied with support of Novartis, going on to do degrees, and some were recruited from university. 

“It worked really well, as the evening visit programme works well, we tried not to tailor it too much.”

The group featured Caistor Grammar School students and teachers, award-winning primary school teacher Amber Hardwick, the science co-ordinator at Ormiston South Parade Academy, as well as a student who had shown a specific interest at a careers event, and a recommendation from Humber UTC. Students and lecturers from University of East Anglia’s unique Pharmacology and Drug Discovery BSc course were there, so too Franklin College and University of Hull representatives. 

Amber, who was joined by colleague Lauren Harper, said: “We felt it allowed us to gain a real insight into how science can be used in industry. We believe it is important to raise the aspirations of children from a young age and for children to be engaged and interested in science from the very beginning of the primary years. 

“Attending the education evening allowed us to understand how important science is within industry, enabling us to promote a love for the subject within our school. In addition, we are looking forward to our future work with Novartis, sharing what we already do in primary schools and working with science specialists to increase pupils’ skills and knowledge.”

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Last year saw the launch of the Pharmacology and Drug Discovery undergraduate degree in Norwich. 

Dr Chris Hamilton, part of the School of Pharmacy at University of East Anglia, said: “We wanted to appreciate some of the commercially active elements of the pharmaceutical industry as well as the theoretical and practical elements taught at university. 

“The visit provided a rare opportunity for the students to gain some real insights into the real life logistics of large scale pharmaceutical manufacture ranging from flexible plant design accommodating different pharmaceutical production runs through to process optimisation, trouble shooting and meeting the requirements for stringent waste management. The students can now relate a lot of the analytical and purification chemistry they are now learning to real life settings that they observed at Novartis.  

“These are the kind of site tours that other businesses, in this and other sectors, should be actively encouraged to run. Chance observations and experiences are what often seed the thoughts of future career aspirations in students’ minds. If I’d visited here when I was 25 years younger there’s a realistic chance I’d have ended up a chemical engineer!”

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