in the Pharmaceutical
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A warm welcome to the latest APS Insights newsletter and I hope that you are all safe and well. This edition should reach you just as some of the formal Covid-19 restrictions are lifting in the UK, but equally at a time when there is a clear recognition that we are not yet over the virus and there is a continued need for supplies of novel vaccines and modern and established medicines to keep nations safe. I certainly feel humbled but proud to be part of the pharmaceutical science and healthcare community that is making a positive impact, and it was lovely to see some pharmaceutical scientists and manufacturing experts recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2021.
I am delighted to say that the APS community is growing! Not only are we very excited to have two new Board members (link), but we have also more than doubled our membership in the last 12 months and I trust that this is a reflection of the benefits and support we have been able to offer our members. You will see in our Newsletter reports on several of our exciting webinar series (with more still to come!). Even if you have missed a webinar, you can find all the videos on our Members Hub. I am also pleased that we were also able to run a virtual ‘Industrial Insights’ event this year, supporting and encouraging our student community (more below). We are currently completing a survey of our members to check how we are doing and to hear from you and what you would like from your membership. If you have not already done so please take the pportunity to take part by 23rd July. Finally, I am very excited about our annual flagship conference coming up in September 2021. This will be a virtual event this year (see below), providing great flexibility for you to join from wherever you are. The conference will include a series of daily Covid-19 talks, bringing you further perspective on how pharmaceutical science has played a part in developing new vaccines and medicines. I hope to see you there.
This year the Academy of Pharmaceutical Sciences flagship annual conference, vPharmSci will be held virtually. The annual conference provides an opportunity to get together and hear about the latest research in Pharmaceutical Sciences. This year there is an excellent International scientific programme that includes sessions on Pharmaceutical Sciences and the COVID-19 pandemic as well as award winners lectures by Professor Hans Lennernas (Uppsala University, Sweden), Professor Ryan Donnelly (Queen’s University, Belfast) and Dr Luis Bimbo (University of Strathclyde and University of Coimbra).
Registration for the event can be found here. Note that attendance is FREE for APS Student members as well as for employees of the
corporate sponsors (GSK, AstraZeneca and Pfizer). There are reduced rates for all other APS members.
The poster session at vPharmSci is intended to showcase up to date research and facilitate networking. In particular it offers an opportunity to
present work as a means to extend your networks. Further to this there are prizes for posters (these prizes are sponsored by MDPI
Pharmaceutics and are only available for posters where a student is listed as the presenter). The prizes will be awarded on the evening of the
7th September 2021 as part of the conference agenda.
Full instructions on poster submission can be found here.
Please tell us about yourself Bahijja I am a pharmacist, Lecturer in Pharmaceutics at King’s College London. Before my current position, I held positions at University College London (UCL) as an Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) postdoctoral researcher and at the European Medicines Agency (EMA) as a seconded Quality National Expert. The core pillars of my research are Ageing and Global Health. The cross-cutting themes which build on the research pillars include the development of biomimetic nanostructures as synthetic substrates for 3D cell culture models, nano-facilitated strategies in infection detection and treatment and investigating the therapeutic and multimorbidity Aspects of Infection (in the context of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
In March 2020, following on from the Malaria in Africa: What’s next? event (a two-day multidisciplinary meeting that discussed malaria and its
emerging resistance in Africa) I founded the King’s College London Fight the Fakes Chapter. King’s College London Fight the Fakes, a
multidisciplinary campaign with a primary focus to raise awareness on the global issue of substandard and falsified (SF) anti-infective medicines
particularly antimalarials and antibiotics which causes several deaths annually globally. In addition, our campaign also includes raising
awareness of the rising use of online SF medicines in the United Kingdom.
What does being an APS Board Member mean to you?
I was first involved with the APS during my PhD. As an APS Board Member, I intend to bring my commitment and passion to pharmaceutical
sciences and global health using my experience in public and stakeholder engagement to the APS, APS activities and to highlight the global
importance of Pharmaceutical Sciences to the wider community.
What are your specific goals and objectives of the appointment?
My main objective is to increase engagement and involvement of current and future APS members – so far in this area, I have been involved in
the development of the Members Survey with the view to use findings from this to establish member-focused initiatives to increase
engagement and participation. Another goal is to support increasing the global visibility of the APS and APS activity with social media and
What are your hobbies outside of work?
I have a podcast (Monday Science) and a social enterprise (STEAM:ED Collective) which keeps me quite busy. I started running last summer,
I am not fast but I enjoy it and I also play netball.
Please tell us about yourself Ryan
I’m a Pharmacist by training and completed my PhD in drug delivery in 2003. I was immediately appointed to a Lectureship and am now Professor of Pharmaceutical technology and Director of Queen’s University Belfast’s interdisciplinary research programme Materials & Advanced Technologies for Healthcare. My personal research is centred on design and physicochemical characterisation of advanced polymeric drug delivery systems for transdermal and intradermal drug delivery, with a strong emphasis on improving patient outcomes. I am currently developing a range of novel microneedle technologies through independent research, but also in collaboration with several major pharma partners. My research group comprises 36 people from 15 different countries.
What does being an APS Board Member mean to you?
My first involvement with APS was in 2001 when I attended the British Pharmaceutical Conference in Glasgow. Since then, I have got to know
about the wide range of activities that APS leads, particularly in advancement of the pharmaceutical sciences, supporting development o
young researchers and recognition of achievement and services to the community. APS membership has enhanced development of my own
career and heightened visibility of my research. I have also learned a lot from attending the PharmSci conferences and availing of these
opportunities to build my network. I was delighted to have the opportunity to join the APS Board so as to contribute to strategic development
of pharmaceutical sciences.
What are your specific goals and objectives of the appointment?
My focus will be on research, education and helping disseminate the great work of the members of APS. I am particularly passionate about the
central role that the fundamental pharmaceutical sciences play in the unique knowledge base and professional (including clinical!) practice of
pharmacists. Without this, we could become little more than professional auditors and empathisers! My strongly-held belief is that universities
should produce global citizens who can contribute to, and lead, multi-disciplinary teams all over the world in every sphere of the profession,
ather than being trade schools mass producing workers for one national market.
What are your hobbies outside of work?
Pre-COVID, I was playing football a few times per week and I hope to return to that soon. Currently, I am doing quite a bit of running, as well as
the usual reading, box set watching and gardening. I am glued to Euro 2020! I am very much looking forward to travelling again and can’t wait
to attend some live conferences.
2021 Virtual Webinar Series
Developing Clinically Relevant Dissolution Specifications
(CRDS) for Oral Drug products
The APS Biopharmaceutics Focus Group has been working to advance our understanding and use of clinically relevant dissolution methods and specifications for some time.
Indeed, in what now seems a distant memory, the focus group organised a very successful face-to-face in London in November 2017, titled
‘Developing Clinically Relevant Dissolution Specifications for Oral Drug Products—Industrial and Regulatory Perspectives’. Clinically relevant
dissolution has been the subject of much discussion and debate for formulation, analytical, and regulatory scientists for several years and it
was the intention of the APS focus group to convene a follow-up meeting in 2020 which would provide an opportunity for industrial, academic
and regulatory scientists to share the latest work in this area and progress discussions on developing a scientific framework for working with
clinically relevant methods and specifications. However, as with so many events, the pandemic forced the APS focus group and the CRDS
organising committee to change plans and the concept of a webinar series was born. It was the intention of the organising committee to
establish a series of webinars to introduce key concepts in CRDS and to share industrial and regulatory case studies so that the potential for
new approaches which combine biopredictive dissolution methodologies with physiologically based biopharmaceutics modelling could be
debated. The webinar series has included the following presentations:
Clinically Relevant Dissolution Specifications – Why, What, and How? – Paul Dickinson (SEDA Pharmaceutical Development Services) and
Andreas Abend (MSD)
Clinically Relevant Dissolution Specifications – Introduction to PBPK/PBBM. The How and the Why – Andrea Moir (AstraZeneca) and Susan
How to develop CRDS including case studies from Industry – Diansong Zhou (AstraZeneca), Xavier Pepin (AstraZeneca), Christophe Tistaert
Overview of global regulatory trends within CRDS including progress, challenges and emerging opportunities – Om Anand (FDA) and Aris
Dokoumetzidis (University of Athens)
Future developments with PBBM/PBPK software packages – Maxime Le Merdy (Simulations Plus) and David Turner (Certara, Simcyp division)
Emerging opportunities within PBPK/PBBM modelling to support CRDS including new research areas – Adam Darwich (KTH), Brendan Griffin
UCC) and Jenny Dressman (Fraunhofer Institute of Translational Medicine and Pharmacology)
We would like to thank all our speakers for their support of the programme and their willingness to share their knowledge and expertise.
Presentations, webinar recordings and Q&A summaries are all available on the APS Members Hub. Throughout the planning phase for the
webinars, the organising committee was very keen to enable access to as many regulatory scientists as possible and we have been very
successful in attracting large numbers of attendees from national and regional regulatory agencies. We have captured questions and answers
from the webinars and these will be reviewed at the end of the series to identify key themes for future discussion. A meeting summary report
is also planned for publication. The team hope that the webinar series has provided the opportunity to maintain dialogue between all those
nterested in this area. With summer now upon us and hopefully better times within sight at last, perhaps we can now look forward to building
on the foundations provided by the webinar series and contemplate a face-to-face meeting/workshop in the next twelve months to progress
our longer-term goal of the development of a regulatory framework to enable the more routine use of CRDS.
CRDS Webinar Organising Committee
Claire Mackie (Janssen), Andreas Abend (MSD), Mark McAllister (Pfizer), Sue Cole (MHRA), Victor Mangas (University of Valencia), Evangelos
Kotzagiorgis (EMA), Heather Mead (AZ), Talia Flanagan (UCB), Jobst Limberg (BfArM).
APS Industrial Insights experience
The Academy of Pharmaceutical Sciences (APS) industrial insights conference took a virtual turn this year and successfully delivered to its name, providing a uniquely insightful afternoon with various speakers and games to enjoy.
Thank you to Nafia Khan, currently a Pre-Reg Pharmacist at Pfizer who attended this event and gave feedback as follows:
APS chair, Jo Craig (NeRRe Therapeutics) and Bill Dawson (Bionet) shared their life lessons from a wealth of knowledge gained over their
careers. These two individuals are pioneers in the pharmaceutical industry and have seen how the pharmaceutical industry has evolved.
They emphasised the importance of being flexible to move with industry as it changes. Publishing quality papers, building your network
it just takes one good contact to increase your exposure and expand from there) and getting laboratory-based or industry-based experience
will go a long way in developing your career. Anything from Covid-19 labs (a very hot topic at present) to contract research organisations
CROs) or contract manufacturing organisations (CMOs) will help you decide what you want to do. Bill normalised failures speaking about
previous experiences as a student, and you should not be afraid of them. It is the comeback from them that defines you. Persistence,
continuous learning and self-improvement defines your trajectory. This is also true for the pharmaceutical industry as a whole – you hear less
of the product failures despite how common they are. Their very perception as a failure is not necessary since any results are learned from and
improved upon until a safe and efficacious product reaches the market, which you may eventually have proudly been involved with.
Graduate speakers across the big three pharmaceutical companies, AstraZeneca (AZ), GSK and Pfizer, made it apparent that what was typically
viewed as a natural career path into industry – doing a PhD after a Masters or Bachelor’s degree and then moving to industry – was not as
essential as it once may have been. Doing a PhD is a wonderful opportunity if you love research but no longer needs to be done as a means
to get into industry. In fact, it can even be done after some time in industry (or during – too many routes to fit in here!). However, the main focus
from Avnee Vaghjiani (Pfizer), Bethany Cameron (AZ), and Freya King (GSK)’s presentations were advocating for the many career routes one may
take in the pharma industry. Avnee and Bethany are both working as Formulation Scientists at their respective companies. Bethany and Freya
both did Graduate Schemes at the pharma companies they are currently working at before moving into permanent positions. A bit confusing?
Or just, many opportunities for exploration and growth! Graduate schemes offer the chance to discover what you enjoy in the vast operations
of the pharmaceutical industry and make networking very easy as colleagues are always willing to help. Never write off routes you may think
are not for you from the sounds of it as you may come into your own when you finally try it. Equally, starting a permanent position immediately
can give you more time to build a solid foundation in your area of work before moving into another group in the future – a head start, of sorts.
It comes down to, if you don’t ask, you don’t get!
The academic experience was delivered by Head of Pharmaceutics and Professor of Materials Science (also claimed “accidental pharmacist”),
UCL’s own Prof. Gareth Williams. His route into academia was anything but conventional He worked for the civil service for a few years after his
chemistry-based PhD before realising he missed the laboratory work. Despite this gap in his academic trajectory, there was no hesitation in
picking up right from where he left off in pharmaceutical sciences, which he described as this constant churn between academia and industry.
This teaches us that if you make a career decision that you later realise is not what you enjoy, it can be as simple as changing it and there is no
time lost, only experience gained. He now has five post-doctoral students, 15 PhD students all working on very cool experiments (including
occasionally travelling to Diamond Light Source) on top of managing 34 staff members of the UCL School of Pharmacy. Whilst he did not have a
long-term strategic vision and instead came across these “happy accidents”, his charisma (engaging students) and unwillingness to let failure
(such as with grant proposals) halt his lab’s progress, has given him a profound career in academia.
Medicines to market was an interactive games session where teams were formed amongst participants and an industrial or academic
professional was assigned to lead the breakout brainstorm. The main idea was to dive into and experience what it is like to work in the
pharmaceutical industry, as an introductory guide. We worked together on a theoretical diabetes drug in development, ‘competing’ with other
pharmaceutical industries to solve problems encountered when developing a formulation to support clinical trial requirements. This included
addressing issues of stability or change in polymorphic form. The friendly disagreements between students demonstrated the types of
conversations that may happen in this scenario based on interpretation of regulatory requirements or individual backgrounds. What stood out
rom these sessions were the guide assigned to each group gave everyone a true insight into industry and shared knowledge of previous cases
they had worked on. Mei Wong (Pfizer) led the group discussion in the main room and each group had reached different, but not necessarily
‘wrong’, conclusions – as would competing pharma companies.
Technical issues were far and few during the day and the virtual platform provided a more accessible means for students to remain connected
and attend from all over the country. Speakers informed undergraduate and postgraduate students of a career in industry but from the
afternoon, it was clear there is no ‘typical’ career path to take. Rather, be flexible, proactive and take opportunities as they come. Do not be
afraid of change, instead be the driver of change. This is the power we have as the next generation of healthcare researchers towards
accelerating our goal of achieving better patient outcomes.
Crossing Biological Barriers with Nanomedicines
The Nanomedicine Focus group launched their online seminars series Crossing Biological Barriers with Nanomedicines with the plenary
talk by Prof Giuseppe Battaglia.
Here is a short report on the webinar by Saphia Matthew, PhD candidate University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK:
‘Phenotypic nanomedicines: integrating personalised medicine into drug delivery was an exciting showcase of the smart polymersome drug
delivery systems developed by Professor Battaglia. We were guided through the theory of superselective polymersomes alongside examples
of their successful application in targeting brain endothelial cells through ligand multiplexing and Goldilocks avidity to LRP1. This inspiring talk
stressed the importance of characterizing ligand-receptor binding thermodynamics during targeted carrier design and provided a blueprint for
precision-tailoring of nanomedicine pharmacokinetics.’ Participant Saphia Matthew, PhD candidate University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK.
International Opportunities for Focus Groups
As a scientific member organisation of the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) APS is able to participate in the Board of Pharmaceutical Sciences (BPS) which is one of the three “pillars” of FIP.
The other two so-called pillars are the Board of Pharmaceutical Practice (BPP) and FIPEd which supports education in pharmacy and pharmaceutical sciences. Further information about all three can be found on the FIP website
Within BPS there are six Special Interest Groups (SIG) which although broader in scope than the APS Focus Groups, are nevertheless similar in structure and goals. The SIGs are:
Drug delivery and manufacturing
Personalised and precision medicine
Pharmacy practice research
Regulatory science and quality
New generation pharmaceutical scientists
Some SIGs have sub-groups within them (known as Focus Groups). For example, within the New Medicines SIG there are four Focus Groups: Pharmacology, Natural Products and Traditional Medicines, Biologics, Cell and Gene Therapies.Click here for more information about all the SIGs and Focus Groups.
There are many areas of overlap between the APS Focus Groups and the SIGs within FIP and these offer great opportunities for APS members o connect with pharmaceutical scientists with similar interest around the world. Some APS projects, like our MCS project, have already used he FIP network to gain broader insight into how MCS might be used or applied in different countries. FIP also offers a platform for hosting webinars and meetings and so an APS Focus Group that wishes to connect with a SIG can do so using the FIP tools.
Details of how to contact the various SIGs are provided on the FIP website
UK Academy of Pharmaceutical Sciences Advanced Therapy
Medicinal Products Focus Group
With the launch of the UK Academy of Pharmaceutical Sciences Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products Focus Group in late 2020, a
webinar series reviewing the current and emerging trends in cell and gene therapy was held virtually in May 2021 over three days.
This webinar series was timely given Brexit and the recent global COVID-19 pandemic impacting all sectors of the pharmaceutical sciences
research landscape globally and in the UK. Delegates from the academic, industry, regulatory and NHS attended the session where
challenges and opportunities in the development and clinical implementation of cell and gene therapies were discussed. The webinar series
captured all the major developments in this rapidly-evolving area and highlighted emerging concepts warranting cross-sector efforts from
across the community. For those interested, recordings from this webinar series can be found in the members hub.
A Focus on APS Focus Groups
The APS has 12 Focus Groups that cover a range of topics.
As an APS member you can join any of these focus groups and I urge you to look at the website where you will find details of the remit of each
group as well as who the leadership team are for each group. There is an option within the website to join the group.
If you are interested in getting involved in a focus group there are plenty of opportunities to organise workshops, webinars or to write position
The Emerging Technologies is a new Focus Group and you can read more about this group on their blog
Typically focus groups meet (via teleconference) on a monthly basis to plan events or to discuss hot topics. Each year there is an opportunity
for the focus groups to suggest speakers for the APS PharmSci annual conference. This year we have seen an increase in the number of
webinars offered by the Focus Groups, particularly from Age-Related Medicines; Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products; Biopharmaceutics
and Nanomedicines. The New Scientists and Students FG also ran their Industrial Insights meeting as a virtual event for the first time.
If you want to suggest any webinar topics or events please join the focus group and share your ideas with the membership.
Protecting the future of human health
Our experience of COVID-19 shows how suddenly a global health challenge can appear.
As someone working in science, you will understand that while nobody can predict what we will face next, we can be certain that the future will
bring many more threats to human health.
The Medical Research Foundation is the charitable arm of the Medical Research Council (MRC). With support from the scientific and medical
communities and the public, the Foundation funds high-quality medical research that improves human health and changes people’s lives.
Unlike most health charities, the Foundation does not have to provide support for a specific disease or condition, or a particular research
institution. Free to choose its own research priorities, the charity is responsive and flexible in the way it allocates funding.
Current research priorities, identified based on gaps in understanding, are COVID-19, the threat of drug resistant infections, adolescent mental health, and pain research. These are key public health challenges requiring ground-breaking ideas from some of the UK’s leading scientists.
Later this year, the Foundation’s 2021 Emerging Leaders Prize will celebrate outstanding scientists whose research has made a significant
impact in the fight against COVID-19. £200,000 of flexible funding will be awarded to the winners, helping them to advance their COVID-19
esearch and their research careers.
The Foundation is currently offering businesses the opportunity to become a corporate sponsor of the COVID-19 Emerging Leaders Prize.
Sponsoring the prize will provide brand exposure among leading members of the UK medical research community and senior policymakers. Click here to find out more about the prize, and corporate sponsorship opportunities , on the Foundation’s website.
MEMBERS: Don’t forget to visit the Members Hub on a regular basis for up to the minute news and event information and webinar
To ensure we meet your expectations, please let us know what you would like to see in the Members Hub by emailing your suggestions
to us at email@example.com
NON-MEMBERS: Take a look at the many benefits to being an APS member, including FREE attendance to all webinars.
CORPORATE SPONSORSHIP: If you would like to become a Corporate Sponsor and extend the benefits of APS Membership to your staff
please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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