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Graduation 2014

School of Pharmacy Graduation 2014. Click here to download the image.

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Professor Robson - guest speaker at Cancer Research Advancing Patient Care event

Professor Tracy Robson from the School of Pharmacy ( 3rd from left) pictured at the Cancer Research Advancing Patient Care  Event in Riddle Hall.

Professor Robson was one of the guest speakers at the event and gave a presentation entitled: ’Steering a New Cancer Drug Discovery into Clinical Trials: The Queen’s Almac Discovery Partnership’

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Job Vacancy: Lecturer in Clinical Pharmacy

The post of Lecturer in Clinical Pharmacy has become available at the School of Pharmacy, see here more details.

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School of Pharmacy Research Featured by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society

In a major new report* the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS)  has illustrated the important role played by pharmacist researchers in developing new and better medicines, and improving the use of existing medicines, by describing research programmes carried out in the School of Pharmacy at Queen’s.

Professor Ryan Donnelly (Chair in Pharmaceutical Technology) carries out multi-award winning research on the development of novel microneedle drug delivery systems. emphasising the role of the pharmaceutical scientist in innovating new and enabling delivery technologies with real benefits for patients. 

Professor Carmel Hughes (Chair in Primary Care Pharmacy) carries out research on the quality of drug use in older patients. Her work has led to the development of a unique pharmaceutical care intervention model, commissioned as part of a new service available to Nursing Homes in Northern Ireland.

* New Medicines, Better Medicines, Better use of Medicines published by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (May 2014). 

To read the complete report, please visit http://www.rpharms.com/promoting-pharmacy-pdfs/nmbmbu---full-report.pdf

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New BBSRC iCASE studentship available!

A new BBSRC fully funded Four year Industrial Case Studentship with Queen’s University Belfast School of Pharmacy and School of Biological Sciences and Almac Sciences Ltd entitled ‘Discovery of transaminase enzymes from halophilic microorganisms for Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API) synthesis’ is now available at http://www.qub.ac.uk/schools/SchoolofPharmacy/Research/PostgraduatePositions/.

Supervisors: Dr Brendan Gilmore, Dr Christopher Allen, Prof Tom Moody.

Deadline for Applications June 16th 2014.

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Pharmacy spin-out ProAxsis receives first major investment
Dr Lorraine Martin
Dr Lorraine Martin

A company from Queen's University Belfast which has developed a range of medical diagnostic test kits has received its first major investment.

ProAxsis‌, a recent spin-out from Queen’s, and overall winner of the 2013 NISP CONNECT 25K award, has received an investment by NetScientific plc and QUBIS Ltd, which has the potential to create up to eight jobs over the next three years.

Click here to read the article

Follow ProAxsis on Twitter: @ProAxsis

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Queen’s School of Pharmacy Laboratory Shortlisted For S_Lab Award

The S-Lab Conference and Awards ‘Supporting World Class Science’ are a unique initiative to create better linkages between, and highlight best practice amongst, all the key players involved in laboratory design, operation and management. They originated in higher education, but now have growing involvement by public sector and commercial laboratories, and suppliers. They are organised by the S-Lab (Safe, Successful, Sustainable Laboratories) initiative.

The stage one applications for the 2014 Awards scheme have now been shortlisted to include 58 entries from 50 universities, public sector and commercial worldwide organisations. The John King Medicinal Chemistry Laboratory at the School of Pharmacy, led by Dr. Marie Migaud, has now been shortlisted for an S-Lab Award under the ‘Laboratory Effectiveness’ category for their development of a unique Chemical and Equipment Database. Award winners will be announced at an event in King’s College London on 1st September 2014.

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New co-funded industrial studentship available!

A new studentship is available- Development of a rapid point-of-care diagnostic test for detection of urinary tract infection.  Dr Michael Tunney, Prof Carmel Hughes and Dr Deirdre Gilpin.

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International Award for Microneedles Team
Dr Ryan Donnelly with the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS) Pharmaceutical Research Meritorious Manuscript Award at the recent AAPS Annual Meeting in Austin, Texas
Dr Ryan Donnelly with the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS) Pharmaceutical Research Meritorious Manuscript Award at the recent AAPS Annual Meeting in Austin, Texas

The Microneedles Group at the School of Pharmacy have scooped another award to add to their growing collection. They were awarded the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS) Pharmaceutical Research Meritorious Manuscript Award at the recent AAPS Annual Meeting in Austin, Texas. This award recognises outstanding achievement in the pharmaceutical sciences, as demonstrated by the author in the quality and originality of a manuscript published in the official AAPS journal, Pharmaceutical Research. The scientific impact of the published work is the principle used in selecting the paper. This could be based on new concepts or new experimental procedures. The Queen’s team won the award for their paper: Design, Optimization and Characterisation of Polymeric Microneedle Arrays prepared by a Novel Laser-Based Micromoulding Technique”.

 

Principal Investigator, Dr Ryan Donnelly, said “We are delighted that our work has again been recognised by our peers. We have received a lot of industrial interest in our microneedle technology and are currently working on industrial scale-up of the manufacturing methods described in this paper. We are pleased to acknowledge the sponsors of the work the Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council (grant number BB/E020534/1) and Invest Northern Ireland (grant number POC21A)”.

 

Head of School Professor David Woolfson said: “This award again recognises the high quality research on novel polymeric microneedle systems being carried out by Dr. Donnelly and his group. It is particularly noteworthy as it represents recognition from one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical science journals”.

 

The paper can be read online at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3016610/

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Drug testing without the pain

Microneedles on a sticking-plaster-like patch may be the painless and safe way doctors will test for drugs and some infections in the future, thanks to work supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

Samples of the rough, absorbent patches are being tested in the Queen’s University Belfast laboratories of Dr Ryan Donnelly, an award-winning researcher in the School of Pharmacy. The experiments are showing that the forest of tiny polymer needles on the underside of the patch, when pressed into the skin, can absorb the fluid in the surface tissue, taking up at the same time the salts, fatty acids and other biological molecules found there as well.

Read the rest of the article here.

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DEL Studentships now available for 2014 entry

The School of Pharmacy is offering a number of DEL postgraduate research studentships for 2014 entry. Potential applicants should check the School’s website for more information. The closing date for applications is January 31st 2014.

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Queen's scientists in €6m bid to find new Cystic Fibrosis treatments

Queen's is is a lead partner in a new €6 million (euro) global research programme to develop new ways to treat Cystic Fibrosis.

Affecting more than 10,000 people in the UK, Cystic Fibrosis (CF) is one of the most common life-threatening inherited diseases. Symptoms include repeated chest infections, the major cause of death for patients.

The new global programme, known as CF Matters, aims to develop personalised antibiotic treatments for these chest infections. The work could revolutionise the practice of antibiotic prescription and limit resistance to the drugs globally.

The study brings together renowned CF clinicians and scientists from 12 academic institutions and hospitals across Europe and the USA. It is led by University College Cork with Queen’s as a lead partner. It will involve lab-based research and clinical trials with 252 patients in seven countries, including around 40 in Northern Ireland.

Queen's lead on the study is Professor Stuart Elborn, Director of Queen's Centre for Infection and Immunity. An internationally recognised CF expert, he led the original trial for a drug which has now been approved for use by CF patients with the G551D gene mutation or 'Celtic Gene'.The drug Ivacaftor, also known as Kalydeco, treats the root cause of CF for people with the Gene.

Professor Elborn said: "When patients have a flare-up they are treated with several antibiotics but it isn’t always effective and can lead to antibiotic resistance. In this study we will use molecular next generation DNA sequencing methods to detect all the bacteria present in the sputum of CF patients and use this knowledge to determine what antibiotics should be used in individual patients.

"This personalised antibiotic treatment will be compared with standard therapy for CF patients. We will determine the patient’s immune response to all the different bacteria present in the sputum. Using models of infection we will also discover the effect of these bacteria on lung inflammation and infection. The overall impact will be to determine if all bacteria present contribute significantly to lung infection in CF patients and subsequently identify the most effective antibiotic treatment for patients infected with these bacteria."

The study will involve a team of scientists from Queen's Centre for Infection and Immunity including Professor Cliff Taggart, Dr Rebecca Ingram and Dr Sinéad Weldon and Dr Michael Tunney from the School of Pharmacy.

They will collaborate with Dr Damian Downey, Co-Director of the Regional Adult Cystic Fibrosis Centre in the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust. Dr Downey said: "This important collaborative study with our colleagues in Queen’s University will investigate the use of directed antibiotic therapy to treat lung infections. The aim of a more focused treatment plan is to limit the damage that occurs to the lung."

The CF Matters grant comes just weeks after Queen's work on managing Bronchiectasis, another chronic lung condition affecting thousands of people in the UK, was published in leading scientific journals.

The three papers by Dr Michael Tunney from Queen's School of Pharmacy and Professor Elborn, address key issues in the management of the condition, including the detection of bacteria that cause lung infection and how long-term antibiotic use to treat Bronchiectasis can result in antibiotic resistance.

Commenting on the work, Dr Tunney said: "We found that large numbers of different types of bacteria were present both when bronchiectasis patients were stable, and during a lung infection. The results clearly demonstrate that routine diagnostic techniques do not detect many of these bacteria.

"Further studies are required to better understand the relationship between the presence of the bacteria found in the lungs of Bronchiectasis patients and the severity of the condition. More research is also needed into the effects of long-term antibiotic use and development of antimicrobial resistance."

 

For more information on the Centre visit http://www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/CentreforInfectionandImmunity 

 

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Award-winning Microneedles Research

Click here to watch Dr Ryan Donnelly talk about his award-winning microneedles drug delivery research.

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National Student Survey: Queen’s Consistently the Best for Pharmacy Teaching

In the past two years, the School of Pharmacy at Queen’s has recorded 99% and 98%, respectively, overall student satisfaction with the teaching on the MPharm course, putting the School top of the league for consistently excellent teaching .

Prof. David Jones, Director of Education, commented 'Once again, our students have confirmed the excellence of pharmacy education provided by the School. I am grateful to my colleagues for their expertise and dedication in developing the pharmacists of tomorrow'.

Click here for details of the 2013 National Student Survey data.

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Royal Pharmaceutical Society Science Award 2013 for Dr. Brendan Gilmore

Dr Brendan Gilmore, of the School of Pharmacy, Queen’s University Belfast, is this year’s winner of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s Science Award for his outstanding research in the field of pharmaceutical microbiology, particularly in bacterial biofilm control. Dr Gilmore delivered his award lecture, “From proteases to plasmas: new weapons in the war against biofilms”, on 2nd September 2013 at the PharmSci2013 conference in Edinburgh. The award was presented by Helen Gordon, Chief Executive of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain.

The RPS Science Award is presented annually to a pharmaceutical scientist with no more than 10 years’ experience at post-doctoral level who has a proven record of independent research and published work that shows outstanding promise. Dr Gilmore’s research is focused on developing novel approaches to controlling bacterial biofilms, matrix-enclosed bacterial communities adhered to surfaces, which exhibit elevated tolerance to antibiotics and biocides. Bacterial biofilms are implicated in up to 80% of all chronic infections, and infections associated with indwelling medical devices, such as catheters and stents.

Commenting on the award, Prof David Woolfson, Head of the School of Pharmacy at Queen’s University Belfast, said “This award recognises Dr. Gilmore’s innovative contributions to the field of bacterial biofilm and infection.  It is the second time in the past four years that a member of staff from the Queen’s School of Pharmacy has won the award, confirming again the high quality and impact of the School’s research programmes”.

Bill Dawson, chairman of the Academy of Pharmaceutical Sciences is delighted that Dr Gilmore has been so honoured by the RPS. He said: “Novel ways to control infection have been highlighted recently by the chief medical officer and scientists like Dr Gilmore have a key role to play in this. He has recently taken a leadership role in the APS focus group on microbiology and I am really pleased that this award strengthens the partnership between the RPS and the APS.”

Speaking about his award, Dr Gilmore said “It was a tremendous honour to receive this prestigious award from the RPS, and humbling in light of the calibre of previous recipients who have made significant contributions to the pharmaceutical sciences over the years. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to both past and current members my research group, to my mentors Prof Sean Gorman and Prof Howard Ceri (University of Calgary), Prof Brian Walker and to Prof David Woolfson and Prof David Jones, for their guidance and support throughout my career”.

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Queen’s Team Takes Top Honours at 25k Awards 2013
Kelly Moffit (left) and Lorraine Martin (centre) from ProAx-Sis, Queen’s University Belfast, pictured with Julie-Ann O’Hare of main sponsor Bank of Ireland after being named the overall winner at the NISP CONNECT 25k Awards 2013.
Kelly Moffit (left) and Lorraine Martin (centre) from ProAx-Sis, Queen’s University Belfast, pictured with Julie-Ann O’Hare of main sponsor Bank of Ireland after being named the overall winner at the NISP CONNECT 25k Awards 2013.

A Queen’s University Belfast team which is developing a range of novel medical diagnostic tests is the overall winner of the 25k Awards 2013, sponsored by Bank of Ireland.

These prestigious annual awards are made under the NISP CONNECT entrepreneurship programme, which is based at the Northern Ireland Science Park in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter.

ProAx-SiS, founded by Dr Lorraine Martin and Professor Brian Walker, as a spin out from the School of Pharmacy, Queen's University Belfast, were announced winners of the Biotech category before being declared the overall winners of the highly competitive 25K Award. The awards, were presented at a packed VIP gala ceremony in the iconic Titanic Belfast building, next to Northern Ireland Science Park in the city’s Titanic Quarter.

Click here to read the full article.

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Pharma Company Almac to take School of Pharmacy Research to Phase 1 Trials

Almac and Queen’s University have announced a significant milestone in the development of a ground breaking new cancer drug ALM201.

ALM201 is a drug candidate derived from a natural protein originally discovered by a Queen’s School of Pharmacy research team led by Professor Tracy Robson and developed by Almac Discovery Ltd in Craigavon in collaboration with Professor Robson. It is an anti-angiogenic drug that works by preventing the growth of new blood vessels, thereby inhibiting tumour growth. However ALM201, unlike the majority of other anti-angiogenic therapies on the market, works by an entirely new mechanism and hence has the potential to treat a wider range of patients than currently possible including those resistant to existing therapies.

With preclinical studies successfully completed the drug has reached a significant milestone as Phase 1 clinical trials are scheduled to begin in early 2014. The three year trial will be led by Dr. Richard Wilson, Director of the Northern Ireland Clinical Trials Unit at Queen’s and managed by Almac Discovery, and will be run from Belfast and two other UK based clinical trial Centres.

Almac and Queen’s have also formally launched the Almac/CCRCB joint Drug Discovery Partnership and the announcement of Professor Tim Harrison as the inaugural McClay Chair of Medicinal Chemistry who will head up the collaborative programme. Alan Armstrong, CEO of the Almac Group explains; “Almac and Queen’s have demonstrated through the creation and development of ALM201 how valuable and productive such a world class partnership between academia and industry can be”.

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New PhD project available

The following project has been added to the list of PhD projects already available for 2013:


The contribution of pharmacists to the management of multimorbidity.

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Welcome week timetable 2013 now available for download

Click here to download a pdf of the Welcome Week timetable

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Graduation 2013

The School of Pharmacy's 2013 graduates.

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Three teaching awards for School of Pharmacy staff

In May 2013, three QUB Teaching Awards were won by members of staff within the School of Pharmacy. This is a tremendous outcome considering a maximum of 12 awards were available across the University. The QUB Teaching Awards Scheme recognises and rewards excellent examples of teaching and learning.

All of the pharmacist recipients were delighted to receive recognition for their teaching on the MPharm course.

Dr Maurice Hall, Ms Johanne Barry, Mrs Alison Buchanan, Dr Lezley-Anne Hanna and Ms Fiona Hughes won their award for ‘Excellence in Teaching or Learning Support by a Team’. This award has been given for their teaching in the Level 3 Pharmacy Practice module where students must safely dispense medicines to patients and healthcare professionals in a simulated environment. The team ensure that the learning environment and teaching materials are as authentic to practice as possible, resulting in module reviews showing a consistently high level of student satisfaction with the module and staff. The Awards panel praised this team on the authenticity and validity of their teaching methods.

Dr Lezley-Anne Hanna won her individual award in the ‘student nominated’ category. She was initially nominated by Level 4 pharmacy students and then invited to apply for an award following the same process as the other categories. The Awards panel commended her on her feedback provision to students and the use of personal and professional experience to support student learning.

Mrs Roisín O’Hare, Miss Sara Laird, Dr Joanne Brown, Mrs Kathryn King, Mrs Janet Magee, Mrs Fionnuala McCullagh, Dr Roisin McNulty, Mrs Fiona O’Neill and Mrs Louise Shephard won their award for ‘Excellence in Teaching or Learning Support by a Team award’. This award was received for their teaching in clinical pharmacy skills across the four year MPharm. Students begin to develop clinical pharmacy skills via immersion in the experiential environment from the first semester of first year. The Team, along with the hospital pharmacy teams across Northern Ireland, guide and support students with ward based clinical teaching, work shadowing as well as role modelling to encourage professional acculturation. Assessment is based on clinical and professional performance during placements as well as during traditional exams and OSCEs at University. Student and clinical tutor feedback shapes the development of the clinical pharmacy placement programme. A recent questionnaire with all 4 years of the MPharm reported that 88% of students would attend the clinical placements even if they were not compulsory. Seventy percent of students were also inspired by the placements to consider a career in the hospital setting.

In response to the three awards Professor David Woolfson, Head of the School of Pharmacy, said: “These awards highlight once again the excellence of our teaching, which in the past year saw the School record an overall 99% student satisfaction rating in the National Student Survey. I congratulate all the staff involved for their innovative contributions to Pharmacy education.”

All of the prize-winners now look forward to disseminating their good practice to their colleagues in the School of Pharmacy, across the University and to other peers in Pharmacy Education. This process of dissemination is considered an important element of the QUB Teaching Awards Scheme.

The awards will be presented at The School of Pharmacy graduation this summer when the winners will be presented with certificates of recognition and their prize money of £1000.

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Member of staff from the School of Pharmacy wins a Students’ Union Education Award.

Dr Lezley-Anne Hanna has won a Students’ Union Education Award. These Awards celebrate the hard work and dedication of Course Representatives, Peer Mentors, School Representatives and staff across Queen’s University. She was recognised and commended by the panel for her outstanding feedback provision to students.

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Magic Bullet Nanomedicine for Acute Lung Injury

Researchers in the School of Pharmacy and the Centre for Infection and Immunity were in the headlines recently for a ‘magic bullet’ nanomedicine they have devised which could become the first effective treatment for Acute Lung Injury or ALI, a condition affecting 20 per cent of all patients in intensive care.


Read more...

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Queen’s scientists develop ‘magic bullet’ nanomedicine for Acute Lung Injury

Researchers at Queen’s University Belfast have devised a ‘magic bullet’ nanomedicine which could become the first effective treatment for Acute Lung Injury or ALI, a condition affecting 20 per cent of all patients in intensive care.

There are 15,000 cases of ALI every year in the UK. The main causes are road traffic accidents and infections, and many with the condition die as a result of lung failure.

ALI patients can become critically ill and develop problems with breathing when their lungs become inflamed and fill with fluid. These patients frequently require ventilators to aid breathing within an ICU hospital unit. An ICU bed costs the NHS in excess of £1800 per day.

There are currently no effective treatments for this serious condition, but in a joint collaboration between the School of Pharmacy and Centre for Infection and Immunity at Queen’s, a team of scientists and clinicians have developed a new drug that could revolutionise clinical management of patients in intensive care units.

Their new drug is a nanoparticle, measuring around one billionth of a metre. The patient can inhale it, taking the drug directly into the lungs and to the point of inflammation. Current treatments are unable to target directly the inflammation and can result in unpleasant side effects.

Speaking about the development, Professor Chris Scott from the School of Pharmacy, who is leading the research, said: “Nanoparticles are perhaps one of the most exciting new approaches to drug development. Most research in the area focuses on how the delivery of drugs to the disease site can be improved in these minute carriers. Our own research in this area focuses on how nanoparticles interact with cells and how this can be exploited to produce therapeutic effects both in respiratory disease and cancer.”

The new nanoparticle from Queen’s has a surface which allows it to recognize and bind to immune cells called macrophages in the lungs - key to the uncontrolled inflammation that occurs in ALI. This binding induces a rapid reduction in the inflammation, and has the potential to prevent the damaging effects that will otherwise occur in the lungs of ALI patients.

The project is developing the new nanomedicine towards clinical evaluation within the next three years, and is currently sponsored by a £505,000 grant for two years from the Medical Research Council Developmental Pathway Funding Scheme.

Professor Danny McAuley from the Centre for Infection and Immunity, a partner in developing the new nanomedicine, added: “This funding allows us to evaluate a completely novel therapeutic approach to the treatment of ALI and if successful, this nanomedicine could also have application in other common lung disorders such as COPD and Cystic Fibrosis.”

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School of Pharmacy Academic Named BBSRC Innovator of the Year
Dr Ryan Donnelly, Reader in Pharmaceutics at QUB School of Pharmacy, named the BBSRC Innovator of the Year 2013
Dr Ryan Donnelly, Reader in Pharmaceutics at QUB School of Pharmacy, named the BBSRC Innovator of the Year 2013

Dr Ryan Donnelly, Reader in Pharmaceutics at Queen's School of Pharmacy has been named as the BBSRC Innovator of the Year 2013 as well as wining the sub-category of Most Promising Innovator of the Year. He will receive £15,000 to support his research and Queen’s School of Pharmacy will also receive £15,000.

Dr Donnelly won the awards for his work on microneedles that take the sting out of transdermal drug delivery and monitoring. The tiny needles pierce the skin without pain or bleeding and are applied using a skin patch. They then swell, allowing controlled administration of even large medicines like insulin, as well as vaccines. They can also be used in minimally-invasive patient monitoring applications.

Earlier this year, Dr Donnelly was also named GlaxoSmithKline Emerging Scientist for 2012. Speaking about his latest award Dr Donnelly said: “I am absolutely delighted to win both of these prestigious awards, especially considering the extremely high level of competition. My group’s microneedles research has attracted interest and substantial funding from some of the world’s biggest companies over a very wide range of applications. That we have come so far in only five years in this field is testament to the hard work and innovation of the members of my group.

“Our next step in moving towards commercialisation of this exciting research is to scale up production to industrial levels. We will do this over the next two years thanks to a £710,000 award from BBSRC that came through last month. The first patients will benefit from our microneedle technology in three to five years from now.

“The School of Pharmacy at Queen’s has a long and successful track record of innovation, taking our research from the laboratory to the patient. This history and experience has helped me to develop the impact of my research programme, making it relevant to the market and, ultimately, to patients.”

Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts said: "The UK is at the forefront of bioscience, thanks to the pioneering work of BBSRC and continued investment in our world-class research base. These awards recognise how we are fostering innovation and working closely with industry. This will ensure our cutting edge research brings benefits to the economy and society.”

The two competitions form part of BBSRC’s Fostering Innovation initiative. They encourage research in biosciences to cross the gap from academia to tangible economic and social benefits.

Further information on Dr Donnelly’s work is available at http://go.qub.ac.uk/60bbc

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Boots SPP 2013 offer emails are now being sent, thia process will be complete on 15 April.

Please continue to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

      

New BSc Pharmaceutical Sciences to be introduced in 2014
New BSc Pharmaceutical Sciences to be introduced in 2014

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Boots SPP 2013 Applications out now!

The Boots Summer Placement Programme 2013 is now open for applications, here is the link: http://www.boots.jobs/spp/

There will be a Facebook Q&A session on Wednesday 16th January 2013 from 3pm - 4pm, here is the Facebook link: https://www.facebook.com/SPPBoots

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Queen's Scientist is named Emerging Scientist 2012
Dr Ryan Donnelly, is presented with the 2012 GlaxoSmithKline Emerging Scientist Award by GlaxoSmithKline Vice President Jo Craig
Dr Ryan Donnelly, is presented with the 2012 GlaxoSmithKline Emerging Scientist Award by GlaxoSmithKline Vice President Jo Craig

Queen’s University scientist, Dr Ryan Donnelly, has been named the 2012 GlaxoSmithKline Emerging Scientist for his research on microneedle-based systems which deliver drugs without causing pain or bleeding.

Dr Donnelly, Reader in Pharmaceutics in the School of Pharmacy at Queen’s, beat off competition from around the world to scoop the award for his work which has taken the sting out of medicine delivery and monitoring.

The award is presented annually to scientists from across the globe who have demonstrated a substantial advancement in the application of scientific knowledge within the pharmaceutical sciences through published work over the last five years. The winner is chosen by a Panel of Senior Staff from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and work is judged on scientific quality and the actual or future applicability to industrial practice.

Dr Donnelly was presented with the accolade by GSK Vice President Jo Craig and delivered his award lecture at the Academy of Pharmaceutical Sciences UKPharmSci 2012 conference, which was held in Nottingham.

Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Postgraduates, Professor James McElnay, said: “This award is further recognition of the quality and impact of Dr Donnelly’s work. It demonstrates the high regard with which the ground-breaking research being conducted at Queen’s is held on both a national and global level.

“Dr Donnelly’s research on microneedle-based systems has the potential to change the future of drug delivery and monitoring. I am pleased to congratulate him on his award as the GlaxoSmithKline Emerging Scientist of 2012.”

Speaking about his research, Dr Donnelly said “If you look at a microneedle patch with the naked eye, you can see that it is slightly rough. If you run your finger across it, it feels like Velcro. However, when properly applied, the microneedles puncture the outer layer of the skin without causing pain or bleeding. These tiny needles then swell, allowing controlled administration of even large medicines like insulin, as well as vaccines. Skin fluid can also be collected and we believe that analysis of this fluid will enable frequent, accurate, pain-free monitoring of the levels of medicines in the body. This application could prove to be particularly important in enhancing medical care for premature babies”.

Speaking about his award, he said “This award is a nice recognition of the hard work my Group has put in over the past few years. We have secured a number of significant grants from BBSRC, EPSRC, The Wellcome Trust, the Royal Society and Action Medical Research and have contributed numerous publications to the microneedle field, including the first textbook on the subject, published this year by Wiley. Our microneedles technology is attracting considerable interest from industry, with a number of co-development projects already underway in a wide range of fields of use.”

For media enquiries please contact Claire O’Callaghan on +44 (0) 28 9097 5391 or 07814 415 451 or at c.ocallaghan@qub.ac.uk

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...and another No.1 for the Queen's School of Pharmacy!

The Sunday Times University Guide 2013 has named the Queen’s School of Pharmacy as the No. 1 Pharmacy school and the best place to study pharmacy in the UK. The Sunday Times league table is based on both teaching and research quality assessments. The School of Pharmacy at Queen’s has consistently been highly placed in various university league tables for many years, a result, said Head of School Prof. David Woolfson, of the School’s investment in world class facilities and staff.

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Queen's is No.1 for UK Pharmacy Education in 2012 National Student Survey

The School of Pharmacy at Queen’s has once again received an overwhelming endorsement from its students for the quality of teaching on the MPharm degree programme. In the National Student Survey (NSS) for 2012, the Queen’s Pharmacy School recorded the highest overall level of student satisfaction with the course (99%) of all UK pharmacy schools. In 2011, the School had the highest overall mean percentage satisfaction score across all questions in the survey. Commenting on NSS 2012, Professor David Woolfson, Head of School, said, “These results again confirm the consistently outstanding quality of undergraduate education provided by the School of Pharmacy at Queen’s. Our staff members provide an integrated approach to teaching the practice and science of pharmacy, where learning is set in a world-class research environment. Thanks are due to our dedicated staff led by the Director of Pharmacy Education, Professor David Jones”.

Full details of the NSS 2012 survey for Pharmacy Schools can be found on the Unistats website by clicking on this link:

http://unistats.direct.gov.uk/Subjects/ByGroup/2

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Queen's plasma jet technology gives 'cold' shoulder to superbugs

Scientists at Queen’s University Belfast led by Dr Brendan Gilmore (School of Pharmacy) and Prof Bill Graham (Centre for Plasma Physics) have developed a new technique which has the potential to kill off hospital superbugs like Pseudomonas aeruginosa, C. difficile and MRSA. The novel method uses a non thermal or ‘cold’ plasma jet to rapidly penetrate and eradicate complex, 3-dimensional bacterial communities known as biofilms which bind bacteria together on surfaces and make them highly tolerant to conventional chemical approaches. The findings are published in the international peer-reviewed Journal PLoS ONE.

By passing electrical current through flowing gas mixtures a plasma plume composed of a wide variety of reactive antimicrobial species is created which effectively penetrate biofilms of Pseudomonas aeruginosa and MRSA, rapidly killing the bacteria within. Currently antibiotics and disinfectants are used to target bugs in hospitals like Pseudomonas aeruginosa, C. difficile and MRSA. Effective in killing individual bacteria, they are often ineffective against complex organised communities of bacteria.

The researchers presented their findings, earlier this week, to an audience including Government Chief Scientific Adviser Sir John Beddington and Chief Executive of EPSRC Professor David Delpy.

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Queen's Improvement to Society Award for School of Pharmacy
Dr Ryan Donnelly receives the Queen’s Improvement to Society Award from Professor Tony Gallagher (Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Academic Planning, Staffing and External Relations).
Dr Ryan Donnelly receives the Queen’s Improvement to Society Award from Professor Tony Gallagher (Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Academic Planning, Staffing and External Relations).

Dr Ryan Donnelly has won the inaugural Queen’s Improvement to Society Award. This award was voted on by a Panel of students from across the University who deemed Dr Donnelly’s work on microneedle arrays for enhanced transdermal drug and vaccine delivery and minimally-invasive patient monitoring to hold great potential for improving therapeutic outcomes for patients.

The award was presented at the Volunteering Excellency Awards in the Great Hall on the 8th June. In accepting the award Dr Donnelly said; “My Group’s work on microneedles has been extensively funded by the UK Research Councils (BBSRC, EPSRC) and the Wellcome Trust and is now attracting considerable interest from industry. I believe that, once commercialised, our microneedle technology will make a considerable impact on healthcare, to the benefit of society. I would like to thank the students of Queen’s for this honour and recognise the contribution that our own Pharmacy students, both postgraduate and undergraduate, have made to the development of this exciting technology.”

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Queen’s University Belfast announces intention to establish College in China

Queen’s University Belfast today announced its intention to establish a China Queen’s College in partnership with the China Medical University, in Shenyang, one of China’s top ranked universities for Health Sciences.

This partnership will see some 1000 Chinese students studying for Queen’s University Belfast degrees in pharmaceutical science in the new College. The students will be trained jointly by staff from Queen’s and the China Medical University. The China Queen’s College provides a valuable opportunity for Queen’s to establish a physical presence in China, building on its current strengths and enhancing the University’s profile in one of the largest markets in the world for international students.

The new College, based in Shenyang, China, a city of 14 million people, will be announced today at a special ceremony at Queen’s, in the company of Madame Liu Yandong, State Councillor of the People’s Republic of China.

The State Councillor, one of China’s most senior government ministers, was visiting Queen’s to offer her support to the new China Queen’s College and to witness the signing of collaborative agreements with Shanghai Jiaotong University, Peking University and the Chinese Scholarship Council. These institutional agreements build upon the University’s existing links in China which include the £2.3 million Science Bridge project. This project has seen Queen’s technologies being used in the construction of the China Bird Nest Olympic Stadium, Hangzhou Bay Sea Crossing Bridge, and thermal power generation plants and power systems across China.

Welcoming the new College, Queen’s President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Peter Gregson said: “The year 2012 in China is known as the ‘Year of the Dragon’, a symbol of good fortune and a sign of intense power. Today’s agreements with Shanghai Jiaotong University, Peking University and Chinese Scholarship Council and the announcement of our intention to establish the China Queen’s College are a sign of the powerful relationships that Queen’s University has built with its Chinese partners and a symbol of the good fortune for Northern Ireland through its strengthened links with an internationally recognised super power.

“The creation of a joint College with one of China’s top Health Sciences universities is based on a real and vibrant partnership. It will provide many opportunities and deliver real outcomes for society in China, in the UK and in Ireland.

“Madame Liu’s visit today confirms her government’s intention to continue to support Queen’s partnerships in China and, we in turn, are committed to developing mutually beneficial partnerships with institutions in China.

“Today is a red letter day for Queen’s University Belfast, for Northern Ireland and for China.”

Speaking about the importance of the new China Queen’s College to Northern Ireland, the Minister for Employment and Learning, Dr Stephen Farry said: “This truly exciting and innovative venture highlights the value of international higher education collaboration and will bring many long term academic, economic and social benefits to both the institutions and the people they serve.”

See the April edition of QTV News for more on this.

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Microneedle research showcased at Westminster
Dr Ryan Donnelly
Dr Ryan Donnelly presented his research on microneedles at an event at Westminster

A researcher from Queen’s was one of only five leading scientists chosen to profile their research to MPs and other stakeholders at a reception at the Palace of Westminster.

Dr Ryan Donnelly from the School of Pharmacy was selected to represent the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) at the event which aimed to highlight how bioscience research positively impacts society and the economy.

Using BBSCR funding, Dr Donnelly and his team in the School of Pharmacy have developed a novel technique using microneedles to deliver drugs directly across the skin. Importantly, microneedle application is pain-free and does not cause bleeding or infection.

MPs and other stakeholders at the event heard how the team has developed patches that feature a lattice of tiny microneedles made of a biocompatible polymer that can either dissolve in skin or swell, depending on the type of drug to be delivered.

A flyer produced by BBSRC for the event stated that: ‘This new technique could open up new avenues for medical treatments, including vaccines, bring convenient, safe and effective relief to millions of people and power the UK’s bioscience economy for years to come’.

Dr Donnelly said: “The Westminster event provided a valuable opportunity to profile the novel research we are undertaking in the School of Pharmacy and to highlight to MPs the importance of the bioeconomy and BBSRC’s involvement.

“Funding from bodies such as BBSRC is crucial for scientists to be able to carry out research which will ultimately benefit society. Success with our BBSRC-funded projects has allowed us to protect our work through an international patent application and gave us the track record to get further grants from The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the Wellcome Trust and the pharmaceutical industry.”

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First Combination ARV Vaginal Ring for HIV Prevention Being Tested in Phase I Safety Trial

Paired with dapivirine, maraviroc makes debut as first entry inhibitor ARV to enter clinical trials as a vaginal microbicide.

PITTSBURGH, Nov. 15, 2011 –  In the first clinical trial of a vaginal ring combining two antiretroviral (ARV) drugs, researchers from the Microbicide Trials Network (MTN) are collaborating with the International Partnership for Microbicides (IPM) to evaluate whether the ring is safe for use in women. If the ring does prove to be safe, it could be considered for further testing, and eventually be evaluated for its effectiveness as a microbicide for protecting women against HIV infection through vaginal sex.

The trial, which is funded by U.S. National Institutes of Health and goes by the name MTN-013/IPM 026, is evaluating a ring that contains the ARVs dapivirine and maraviroc. Each of these drugs works against HIV in a different way. Dapivirine belongs to a class of ARVs called non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs) that prevent HIV from making copies of itself.  Maraviroc, on the other hand, is an entry inhibitor that blocks HIV from getting inside target cells.

The dapivirine-maraviroc ring is the first combination microbicide to enter clinical trials. It is also the first vaginal microbicide containing an entry inhibitor.

The ring was developed by IPM, a non-profit product development partnership headquartered in Silver Spring, Maryland, in collaboration with Queens University Belfast (Belfast, Northern Ireland). The belief is that combining the two drugs, which act at different points in the HIV “life cycle,” may provide greater protection against HIV than a single drug alone.

Read the full article on the International Partnership for Microbicides website.

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Revised entrance grades for entry to Pharmacy in 2012
The entrance requirements for the MPharm Honours Degree have changed, please click here to see the new requirements.

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National award for Queen's researcher
Dr Ryan Donnelly
Dr Ryan Donnelly

A senior lecturer from the School of Pharmacy at Queen’s has won a national award for his work on microneedle-based drug delivery systems which offers huge potential benefits for patients.

Dr Ryan Donnelly won the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s (RPS) Science Award, which is awarded to a pharmaceutical scientist who has less than 10 years’ experience at post-doctoral level and who has a proven record of independent research and published work that shows outstanding promise in the field.

Dr Donnelly was presented with the accolade and delivered his award lecture at the Academy of Pharmaceutical Sciences UKPharmSci 2011 conference which was held in Nottingham.

Martin Snowden, Chairman of the Academy of Pharmaceutical Sciences, said: “Dr Donnelly is a very deserving recipient of this award — his research on microneedles is at the forefront of its field and is making significant impact in both transdermal drug delivery and therapeutic drug monitoring.”

Queen’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor James McElnay said: “I am delighted to congratulate Dr Connelly on winning this major award which demonstrates the quality of research being conducted at Queen’s and the positive impact it is having on peoples’ lives.”

Explaining his research and its potential impact, Dr Donnelly said: “In my view, microneedles offer huge potential benefits for patients. Application is pain-free, skin barrier function recovers rapidly upon removal and my group has shown that they are very unlikely to cause skin infection. Molecules of virtually any size can now be efficiently delivered across the skin, the only proviso being that they must be water soluble, since the pores created in the skin barrier are aqueous.

It is easy to see the worldwide benefits of vaccine delivery without painful injections and potentially contaminated needles to dispose of. Moreover, the care of many patients may be improved by transdermal delivery of their regular medication.”

Speaking about his award, Dr Donnelly said: “I was delighted to win the RPS Science Award. It’s something I’ve aspired to since I attended my first British Pharmaceutical Conference 10 years ago. I really enjoy my job and to receive recognition for something I love to do is very humbling. This is especially true, since I am well aware of the many distinguished pharmaceutical scientists who have won the award in the past. I hope that I can emulate their success as my career progresses.

Of course, I have had a lot of help in my career and I would like to thank the many past and current members of my research group who have contributed so much. I have had great support in the School of Pharmacy at Queen’s, first when I started my PhD in 2000, and then when I became a member of academic staff in 2004. Gratitude is due to David Woolfson, Sean Gorman, Paul McCarron and David Jones.”

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Outstanding result in National Student Survey for Queen’s School of Pharmacy
The School of Pharmacy at Queen’s has received an overwhelming endorsement from its students for the quality of teaching on the MPharm degree programme. In the National Student Survey (NSS) for 2011, results for 24 UK Schools of Pharmacy showed that Queen’s achieved the highest overall mean percentage satisfaction score (92%) across all 22 questions that comprised the survey. Indeed, many scores were above the 95% satisfaction level, including questions relating to the knowledge and enthusiasm of staff, resources and support. Commenting on NSS 2011, Professor David Woolfson, Head of School, said, “The outcome of the survey for the School of Pharmacy at Queen’s is confirmation of the hard work, dedication and expertise of our academic staff, supported by our technical and administrative colleagues, in their determination to deliver the highest possible quality of education to our students within a research-led environment. Pharmacy is  a challenging and rewarding healthcare profession dedicated to serving the public and the School is very conscious of our responsibilities in educating the pharmacists of the future”.

Full details of the NSS survey for Pharmacy Schools can be found by clicking the link below. 
(Link to Excel spreadsheet)

Data has been compiled from the NSS 2011 results published at http://unistats.direct.gov.uk/.

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Pharmacy success at the European Cystic Fibrosis Society Conference

Second from left - Dr Lorraine Martin (School of Pharmacy, QUB); far right - Prof Stuart Elborn (President of the European Cystic Fibrosis Society); far left - Prof Manfred Ballman (Germany, Conference President).
Nine researchers from the School of Pharmacy recently represented Queen’s University at the European Cystic Fibrosis Conference in Hamburg, Germany (8th-11th June).  The conference was attended by nearly 2000 delegates from 49 countries.  In total seven abstracts were submitted from Dr Michael Tunney’s and Dr Lorraine Martin’s groups, of which three were selected for oral presentation (Dr Lorraine Martin, Mr Gerard McCaughey, and Mrs Steph McGrath).  These presentations facilitated the dissemination of new findings in CF microbiology through to the disclosure of novel biomarker diagnostics.  In the latter, Dr Martin was presented with a best poster prize at the closing ceremony for her work on the development of a new assay approach for the measurement of neutrophil elastase, a critical inflammation-related protease which is elevated in the airways of CF patients .  This enzyme contributes to the destruction of lung tissue and pulmonary decline and has mass application as a biomarker.  Dr Martin hopes that her new assay approach (the development of which was funded by a Proof of Concept Award from Invest Northern Ireland and the European Regional Development Fund) will find application in point of care monitoring, patient stratification and will facilitate the efficacy testing of new CF therapeutics currently in clinical trials.

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Queen's scientists unlock potential of frog skin to treat cancer
Professor Chris Shaw
Professor Chris Shaw
Waxy Monkey Frog
Waxy Monkey Frog

Scientists at Queen's have discovered proteins in frog skins which could be used to treat cancer, diabetes, stroke and transplant patients by regulating the growth of blood vessels.

The award-winning research, led by Professor Chris Shaw at Queen's School of Pharmacy, has identified two proteins, or ‘peptides’, which can be used in a controlled and targeted way to regulate 'angiogenesis' – the process by which blood vessels grow in the body. The discovery holds the potential to develop new treatments for more than seventy major diseases and conditions that affect more than one billion people worldwide.

The proteins are found in secretions on the skins of the Waxy Monkey Frog and the Giant Firebellied Toad. Scientists capture the frogs and gently extract the secretions, before releasing them back in to the wild. The frogs are not harmed in any way during this process.

Professor Shaw said: “The proteins that we have discovered have the ability to either stimulate or inhibit the growth of blood vessels. By ‘switching off’ angiogenesis and inhibiting blood vessel growth, a protein from the Waxy Monkey Frog has the potential to kill cancer tumours. Most cancer tumours can only grow to a certain size before they need blood vessels to grow into the tumour to supply it with vital oxygen and nutrients. Stopping the blood vessels from growing will make the tumour less likely to spread and may eventually kill it. This has the potential to transform cancer from a terminal illness into a chronic condition.

“On the other hand, a protein from the Giant Firebellied Toad has been found to ‘switch on’ angiogenesis and stimulate blood vessel growth. This has the potential to treat an array of diseases and conditions that require blood vessels to repair quickly, such as wound healing, organ transplants, diabetic ulcers, and damage caused by strokes or heart conditions.”

Explaining how his research team looks to the natural world to solve problems where other methods of drug discovery have failed, Professor Shaw said: “Because of its huge potential, angiogenesis has been a prime target for drugs development research over the past forty years. But despite an investment of around $4-5 billion by scientists and drugs companies around the world, they have yet to develop a drug that can effectively target, control and regulate the growth of blood vessels.

“The aim of our work at Queen’s is to unlock the potential of the natural world – in this case the secretions found on frog and toad skins - to alleviate human suffering. We are absolutely convinced that the natural world holds the solutions to many of our problems, we just need to pose the right questions to find them.

“It would be a great shame to have something in nature that is potentially the wonder drug to treat cancer and not aim to do everything in our power to make it work.”

The Queen’s researchers will receive the Commendation in the Cardiovasular Innovation Award at the Medical Futures Innovation Awards in London this evening (Monday 6 June). The Awards are one of Europe’s most prestigious healthcare and business awards, rewarding innovative ideas from front line clinicians, scientists and entrepreneurs. Professor Shaw’s team are the only entry from Northern Ireland to be successful at this year’s awards.

Congratulating Professor Shaw and his colleagues, Professor Brian Walker and Dr Tianbao Chen, on their commendation award, Queen’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson said: “This award is not only an honour for Professor Shaw and his team, it is recognition of the world-class research taking place at Queen’s School of Pharmacy, and the life-changing potential of the University’s work in drug discovery.”

For more information on the Medical Futures Innovation Awards 2011 visit www.medicalfutures.co.uk

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Pharmacists in Schools Programme Proves a Success
Pharmacists in Schools Initiative

Over 20 schools from across Northern Ireland have now taken part in Queen’s Pharmacists in Schools Initiative.


Launched in 2009, the programme, which has been developed by the School of Pharmacy and sponsored by the Northern Pharmacies Trust, aims to increase awareness of the varied roles undertaken by Pharmacists in the community.


The programme allows children aged eight to 14 the opportunity to be pharmacists for the day. The aim of the programme is to encourage them to consider studying science-based career options, as well as increasing their awareness of the role of the pharmacist in the community and in health promotion activities. The School of Pharmacy at Queen’s is the first in the UK to develop an interactive programme of this type to encourage school children to engage with science.


Head of the School of Pharmacy Professor David Woolfson said: “Pharmacists in Schools provides a valuable outreach opportunity for the School of Pharmacy at Queen’s to make a meaningful contribution to the community by encouraging people to seek the advice of their local Pharmacist and enthusing children to consider science-based careers, while promoting the profession of Pharmacy.”


Children participating in this scheme have the opportunity to prepare three 'medicines' in response to 'prescriptions' for fictional patients. They learn how Pharmacists use their medical and scientific knowledge to make medicines for patients and advise them on their safe and effective use. Having prepared their medicines, the children then label them and 'dispense' them to their teachers.


School of Pharmacy staff are accompanied on their visits to schools by Level 3 Pharmacy students. This provides an important teaching opportunity for Queen’s students and enables them to hone the organisational and communication skills learned during their MPharm degree programme and contributes towards their Degree Plus award.


Student Jonathon Clarke, who participated in the programme, said: “Participating in this programme gave me a chance to demonstrate skills and knowledge that I have gained so far in the MPharm programme. I believe I have developed my communication skills, as quite a substantial amount of information had to be passed onto the school children. I really enjoyed the element of teaching that I experienced and it has me made consider a career opportunity that I had not previously thought of, a Pharmacy Teaching Practitioner.”

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Final Pharmacy Examination Timetable
Pharmacy Exam Timetable

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School of Pharmacy researchers pioneer needle-free test for premature babies.
Scientists at Queen’s have pioneered a new needle-free test to take the sting out of medicine testing in premature babies. The research will not only lead to greater accuracy in prescribing, but will also significantly reduce the trauma of such tests for newborn infants and their families.

In the first published research project worldwide on this new approach to testing medicines in children, the findings were announced in leading US medical journal Pediatrics.

The study, which involves the use of blood spots obtained from a simple heel-prick, took place in the Belfast Hospital for Sick Children and the School of Pharmacy at Queen’s.

The research was carried out by a team from the University’s School of Pharmacy in partnership with the Regional Neonatal Unit in the Royal Maternity Hospital. It was funded by the Health and Social Care Research and Development Office (HSC R&D) and Action Medical Research.

Principal Investigator, Queen’s Professor of Pharmacy Practice James McElnay said: “This type of testing will obviously reduce the discomfort of medicine testing in these vulnerable patients. What is even more important, however, is that it will ensure maximum accuracy in calculating the most appropriate dose of a medicine for a sick child.

“Some 80 per cent of infants in intensive care in hospitals receive medicines which have not been appropriately tested or licensed for use in such young patients, and the dosage is usually calculated based on licensed doses for adults or older children. Sizable blood samples are then required to measure the concentrations of the drug in the infant’s bloodstream.

“Our work opens up opportunities for using the same approach to study other medicines which are used in this manner in children, and we are currently studying a number of these.”

The Queen’s study involved the antibiotic metronidazole. The research team used single drops of blood collected on blotting paper from premature infants who were receiving the medicine as part of their routine care. The ‘spots’ were dried, analysed in the University’s School of Pharmacy, and the results used to develop dosage guidance for doctors.

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Scientists discover a way to kill off tumours in cancer treatment breakthrough
Professor Tracy Robson
Professor Tracy Robson
Scientists from the School of Pharmacy at Queen’s University Belfast and Almac Discovery Ltd have developed a new treatment for cancer which rather than attacking tumours directly, prevents the growth of new blood vessels in tumours, starving them of oxygen and nutrients, thereby preventing their growth.

Targeting tumour blood vessels is not a new concept.  However, this drug attacks the blood vessels using an entirely different pathway and therefore could be useful for treating tumours which don’t respond to or which are resistant to current therapies of this type.

Professor Tracy Robson and her research team at Queen’s, in collaboration with researchers at Almac Discovery, developed a new drug to disrupt the tumour blood supply. They have demonstrated that this leads to highly effective inhibition of tumour growth in a number of models as reported this month in Clinical Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.  Almac Discovery is developing the drug candidate and expects to start clinical trials within the next year.

Professor Tracy Robson from the School of Pharmacy at Queen’s explains: “By understanding the anti-angiogenic potential of the natural protein, FKBPL, we have been able to develop small peptide-based drugs that could be delivered to prevent tumour growth by cutting off their blood supply.  This is highly effective in models of prostate and breast cancer. 

“However, this also has the potential for the treatment of any solid tumour and we’re excited about continuing to work with Almac Discovery as this drug enters clinical trials.”

Dr Stephen Barr, President and Managing Director of Almac Discovery said: “This is a first class example of a collaboration between a university and industry to produce a novel approach to cancer therapy that has a real chance of helping patients”.

The Almac Discovery / Queen’s University drug is currently undergoing preclinical development and may provide a first-in-class therapy for targeting tumour angiogenesis by an entirely different pathway to those agents currently approved.

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Thermal Analysis Meeting
The School of Pharmacy is hosting the Royal Society of Chemistry Thermal Methods Group annual meeting Thermal Analysis & Calorimetry (TAC) 2011
on 19-20 April 2011. The deadline for submitting titles for consideration as oral/poster presentations is 12th March 2011.
 
The meeting will be preceded by a short training course  "Thermal Analysis Techniques - An Overview" at the same venue on 18 April 2011.

Sessions will include, pharmaceutical systems, polymer processing, stability and ageing and calibration.
Speakers include Prof Cameron Alexander (School of Pharmacy, Nottingham University), Sam Gnaniah (National Physical Laboratory) and Dr Johan Jacquemin (Université François
Rabelais,France)
Full details are available on the Thermal Methods Group website (www.thermalmethodsgroup.org.uk) or by contacting Vicky Kett v.kett@qub.ac.uk

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UKICRS 2011 Symposium to be hosted at QUB

The United Kingdom & Ireland Controlled Release Society (UKICRS) is hosting their annual one-day symposium on 13 April at the Queen's University Belfast. The symposium, geared towards postgraduate students, postdoctoral researchers and industrialists working in the general areas of pharmaceutics, drug delivery and controlled release, provides ample opportunity to both network and present research in a friendly and supportive environment. This year's invited speakers are Professor Vladimir Torchilin (Northeastern University, Boston USA) and Professor Morgan Alexander (University of Nottingham, UK). For further details, please visit the UKICRS website, or contact Karl Malcolm (k.malcolm@qub.ac.uk) or Gavin Andrews (g.andrews@qub.ac.uk). 

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Pharmacy students put knowledge into practice
Final year Pharmacy students (L-R) Gareth Peeples, Paula Savage, Jonathon Clarke, Oonagh
Diamond and John Hennessey will work as volunteers at an HIV/AIDS hospice.
Final year Pharmacy students (L-R) Gareth Peeples, Paula Savage, Jonathon Clarke, Oonagh Diamond and John Hennessey will work as volunteers at an HIV/AIDS hospice.
A group of final year Pharmacy students will put into practice the skills they have acquired during their time at Queen’s when they undertake volunteer work in South Africa this summer.
The five students, Gareth Peeples, Paula Savage, Jonathon Clarke, Oonagh Diamond and John Hennessey, will travel to Durban in South Africa in June to work as volunteers at an HIV/AIDS hospice.
The students will spend three weeks at Khanya Hospice which provides outpatient services to a number of townships. The staff visit and treat over 660 terminally ill adults and children each month at their homes.
Professor David Woolfson, Head of the School of Pharmacy, said: “The School has a major programme of research focusing on new methods of controlling the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Southern Africa. There continues to be real suffering due to this terrible disease. It is wonderful that our Pharmacy students have volunteered to bring their pharmaceutical knowledge to help those suffering from the condition. They are to be congratulated on their commitment and caring attitude - the School is very proud of all of them.”
Jonathan Clarke, who was born in South Africa and volunteered at the hospice last summer, said: “I gained so much from my experience last year and hope my fellow students will too during our visit in June. But the focus of our work is more on what we can give rather than what we will gain.”
During their time at the hospice the students will offer medication counselling to ensure patients know when and how to take their medicines, raise AIDS
awareness and help the nurses at the hospice carry aid/medical equipment to remote townships. The students will also take medical textbooks to the hospice.
The students have received funding for the volunteer project from the Queen’s Annual Fund. They are continuing to fundraise via: http://www.mycharitypage.com/QUBPharmacyStudents/

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Gene fuelled transporter causes breast cancer cells to self-destruct

Scientists at Queen’s University Belfast have shown that they can deliver a gene directly into breast cancer cells causing them to self-destruct, using an innovative, miniscule gene transport system, according to research published today (28 February) in the International Journal of Pharmaceutics.

See here for the rest of this article.

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£1.74 million grant boosts Cystic Fibrosis research at Queen’s
Research team: Professor Gerry McElvaney, RCSI, Professor Ric Boucher, University of North Carolina, Professor Stuart Elborn, Queen’s University, Dr Marianne Muhlebach, University of North Carolina, Dr Michael Tunney, Queen’s University, Dr Deirdre Gilpin, Queen’s University
Research team: Professor Gerry McElvaney, RCSI, Professor Ric Boucher, University of North Carolina, Professor Stuart Elborn, Queen’s University, Dr Marianne Muhlebach, University of North Carolina, Dr Michael Tunney, Queen’s University, Dr Deirdre Gilpin, Queen’s University
Scientists at Queen’s have begun work into improving the lives of thousands of Cystic Fibrosis sufferers thanks to the award of a £1.74 million US-Ireland Research and Development Partnership grant.

The grant has been approved by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the USA with funding for the Queen’s component provided by Health and Social Care Research and Development (HSC R&D Public Health Agency), Northern Ireland and the Medical Research Council. The grant is the largest ever to be awarded in the UK to study the microbiology of Cystic Fibrosis pulmonary infection.

The study is a collaborative US-Ireland international study with researchers in the Royal College of Surgeons Ireland, Dublin, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA and the School of Pharmacy and the Centre for Infection and Immunity at Queen’s University, Belfast.

Leading the study, Professor Stuart Elborn, Director of the Centre for Infection and Immunity in the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences at Queen’s said: “The key goals of this study are to find out the role of anaerobes in causing damage to the lungs of people with Cystic Fibrosis. Anaerobes are bacteria that do not need oxygen to survive and we will determine whether their presence in the lung contributes to infection there.

"We will also examine whether the bacteria are able to produce chemicals that can damage lung tissue and break down antibiotics given to treat lung infection.  We will also look at how effective different antibiotics are in treating them.”

He added: “The results of the study will be of important clinical relevance to people with Cystic Fibrosis because if we show that these anaerobes are contributing to infection and inflammation in the lungs of Cystic Fibrosis patients, in the future, patients could potentially be given more appropriate and effective antibiotics which should improve their clinical outcome and quality of life.”

The research project has been funded for five years with an aim of recruiting a total of 450 Cystic Fibrosis patients across the three sites. The work will be performed in the ‘US-Ireland Anaerobe Laboratory’ in the Medical Biology Centre which has been recently refurbished - specifically to facilitate the delivery of this project.

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Record year for the School of Pharmacy's Distance Learning Centre

2010 has been another highly successful year for the School of Pharmacy's Distance Learning Centre, with a total of 129 students graduating on the 8 December (including 40 Masters, 76 PG Diploma and 13 PG Certificate). Further information on our Distance Learning Courses is available here.

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Details of PhD projects for September 2011 entry now available
Details of proposed PhD projects for September 2011 entry are now available on the School's homepage (under the 'Vacancies' tab). Additional project titles will be available soon.

The School of Pharmacy at Queen's welcomes applications for postgraduate research from a wide range of undergraduate disciplines. The School of Pharmacy also accepts applications from self-funding students; self-funding students are responsible for the payment of full tuition fees (at either UK or International rates) and all living costs (accommodation, food, etc). The assessment criteria for self-funding applications are the same as those for funded applications, i.e. educational qualifications and quality of application.

The University will be launching a new online postgraduate application portal at the beginning of December 2010 for applicants who wish to commence their studies in September/October 2011. You are advised to apply through the new online postgraduate application portal when it becomes available. However, if you wish to make an application now, you may continue to do so through the current online application portal.

 

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New era for Pharmaceutical Biotechnology at Queen's

President Zhao Qu of Chinese Medical University (CMU) pictured with Queen's President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson at the Heads of Agreement signing.

Staff from CMU and Queen's who witnessed the signing of a new Heads of Agreement between the two institutions
Queen's and China Medical University (CMU) have joined forces to develop a strategic alliance for an undergraduate programme in Pharmaceutical Biotechnology.
Representatives from CMU recently visited Queen's to sign a Heads of Agreement for the new partnership.
The programme will lead to the award of a first degree in Pharmaceutical Biotechnology from Queen's. The course has just had its first intake of students at CMU and is now in its first semester. The new agreement between Queen's and CMU will also see the establishment of a joint research facility on CMU's campus in the area of Pharmaceutical Biotechnology. The facility will enable students progressing from the Queen's MPhil in Pharmaceutical Biotechnology to undertake some of their PhD research at CMU.
China Medical University (CMU) in Shenyang City in the province of Liaoning, was the first medical school established by the Chinese Communist Party and over 50,000 senior specialized medical personnel have been educated by CMU since its establishment.

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New funding for HIV microbicides
Dr Karl Malcolm and Prof David Woolfson have received £195,000 of new funding from the International Partnership for Microbicides for continued development of a silicone elastomer vaginal ring device for controlled release of HIV microbicides. The field has been re-energised recently following the promising results announced in July by the CAPRISA research team proving that an antiretroviral-based microbicide gel formulation reduced the risk of HIV infection. The study also highlighted the issue of poor user adherence to the gel product, an obstacle that a ring-based microbicide product has the potential to overcome.    

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MedChem@QUB/QUILL secures EPSRC Interdisciplinarity Feasibility Account grant of £250K

The School’s of School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences (Prise,Taggart) Chemistry and Chemical Engineering (Hardacre) and Pharmacy (Migaud, Scott, Gilmore) in collaboration with the Queen’s University Ionic Liquids Laboratory (QUILL) have secured an EPSRC Interdisciplinarity Feasibility Account grant of £250K.  This is a 15-month project aimed at covering a broad range of topics based on the use of ionic liquids to enable novel chemistry on phosphorous compounds and small peptides and the implementation of  the chemical outputs in a bone-cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease-related medicinal context.  The project will provide proof of concept research which will be developed outside the grant by industrial and research council follow-on funding.  This is a multidisciplinary grant crossing the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences and the Faculty of Medicine, Health and Life Sciences and demonstrates the commitment within QUB to the area of Medicinal Chemistry.

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Gene could predict tamoxifen treatment failure

Scientists within the Molecular Therapeutics Cluster, School of Pharmacy, have identified a gene which could predict whether women with breast cancer will respond to treatment with tamoxifen, according to findings published today in Cancer Research (February issue).

Dr Tracy Robson and researcher Dr Hayley McKeen, who are funded by Breast Cancer Campaign, have identified a gene, FKBPL. When it is found in high levels in breast cancer, it indicates a good response to tamoxifen and a better chance of survival. Conversely low levels of FKBPL indicate a poor response.

Approximately 28,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with oestrogen dependent breast cancer each year, and many thousands will receive tamoxifen for five years after initial treatment and surgery. However, scientists predict the drug is only effective in around two-thirds of people with thousands of patients seeing no benefit.

Dr Robson hopes to harness the FKBPL gene to develop a test to better predict the outcome of treatment with tamoxifen. This will mean the most effective therapy for the tumour type is given early on in the disease.

Dr Robson, principal investigator, said, “I believe that many women are being treated with tamoxifen without knowing whether it will benefit them. This research is a step in the right direction towards personalised treatment, ensuring that appropriate therapies are given right at the point of diagnosis, avoiding unnecessary treatment.

“More importantly this research should allow us to identify which patients are unlikely to respond to or eventually relapse on tamoxifen therapy, which means they could be treated more aggressively with chemotherapy. In the next three years we should have a clearer indication of whether our research can benefit the patient.”

The next step is to assess levels of this gene in breast cancer samples from large numbers of patients who were treated with tamoxifen. 

Arlene Wilkie, Director of Research and Policy, Breast Cancer Campaign, which funded the study said, “Tamoxifen has long been available as a treatment for women with oestrogen dependent breast cancer. We know it works really well for the majority of people but in around a third of cases, it may not be the best treatment option. In the future a simple test could help us identify these people.”

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Sir Allen McClay

The School of Pharmacy has learned, with great sadness, that Sir Allen McClay, a major benefactor of the School, passed away on January 12th., 2010. Sir Allen founded the pharmaceutical companies Galen plc and its successor, Almac Group Ltd. Through his long association with Queen's, he made substantial philanthropic donations to the School. One of his most notable legacies is the School's McClay Research Centre for Pharmaceutical Sciences, the construction of which was entirely funded through the charitable McClay Trust established by Sir Allen. We extend our deepest sympathy to his wife, Lady Heather, and to his colleagues at Almac Group.

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Prof. Sean Gorman awarded CBE

Prof. Sean Gorman awarded CBE

The School of Pharmacy is delighted to announce that Professor Sean Gorman, former Head of School and now Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Health and Life Sciences, was awarded a CBE in the New Year's Honours List for 2010.

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Pharmacists in Schools Programme

The School of Pharmacy officially launched the Pharmacists in Schools programme on 2nd December 2009. The launch was hosted by Professor Peter Gregson, President and Vice Chancellor of the University and was attended by teachers from local Schools.

This innovative programme allows children aged eight to 14 to be given the opportunity to be pharmacists for the day, to encourage them to consider studying science-based career options, as well as increasing their awareness of the role of the pharmacist in the community and in health promotion activities. The School of Pharmacy at Queen’s is the first in the UK to develop an interactive programme of this type to encourage school children to engage with science.

Staff and undergraduate students from the School of Pharmacy will visit schools and give children the opportunity to prepare medicines in response to prescriptions, label the medicines and dispense them.

In this way they can learn how pharmacists use scientific and medical knowledge to make medicines and to advise patients on their safe and effective use.

Dr Ryan Donnelly, co-ordinator of the Pharmacists in Schools scheme, said: “Within pharmacy there are many roles; compounding and dispensing medications, reviewing medications for safety and efficacy and providing drug information and education and, increasingly, delivering frontline healthcare and clinical services.

“Pharmacists are the experts on drug therapy and they are the primary health professionals who optimise the use of medication to deliver positive health outcomes to patients. For any young person it is a career choice with tremendous scope.”

Professor David Woolfson, Head of the School of Pharmacy at Queen’s, said: “Programmes such as Pharmacists in Schools are a great way to engage with community.

“One study highlighted how a third of students studying science and engineering at one university had made their choice by the age of 12.

“I have no doubt that Pharmacists in School will create that sense of wonder and enthusiasm in those pupils who participate in it. And even if they do not go on to study pharmacy, they will have a real understanding of what pharmacists do.”

Mary Keating, Principal of St Brigid's Primary School in Glassdrummond, County Armagh, said: “The Pharmacists in Schools programme provides a great opportunity for children to engage with science and to learn about the extended role the pharmacist plays in the community in advising people about their medicines and on maintaining healthy lifestyles. The children at my school really enjoyed their experience being pharmacists for the day.”

The initiative is supported by Northern Pharmacies.

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Belfast Scientist Wins Prize in First MedImmune European Cancer Research Abstract Competition

From left to right: Pam Trail, Vice President, Research and Development, MedImmune and one of the Judges; Professor Volker Schirrmacher, retired Head of the Division of Cellular Immunology at The German Cancer Research Centre, Heidelberg, Germany and one of the judges; Eva Schlecker, awarded second prize - PhD student at The German Cancer Research Centre, Heidelberg, Germany; Nicole Simonavicius, awarded First Prize - PhD student at The Institute of Cancer Research, London; Roberta Burden, awarded third prize - scientist at Queen's University Belfast, Northern Ireland; Klaus Bosslet, MedImmune's Vice President of Research, Oncology, Cambridge and one of the judges; Professor Gillian Murphy, Department of Oncology, University of Cambridge.

Cambridge, UK, 23 November 2009 – Dr Roberta Burden, a scientist from Dr Chris Scott's group at the School of Pharmacy, was today announced as winner of third place (£500) in the MedImmune research abstract competition, which highlights the work of tomorrow’s budding scientific leaders in cancer research. Students and postdoctoral fellows from across Europe were invited to submit abstracts on cancer research as part of a competition sponsored by MedImmune, AstraZeneca’s global biologics unit that has a research facility in Cambridge, the United Kingdom.

 “I am delighted to be recognised in this competition. It has been a very positive experience and I am grateful to MedImmune for giving me the opportunity to showcase my research. I hope to be able to continue my research in cancer and potentially help to save lives.” said Roberta Burden.

 First prize of £2,000 was awarded to Nicole Simonavicius, a PhD student at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, UK and second prize of £1,000 was presented to Eva Schlecker, a PhD student at The German Cancer Research Center, Heidelberg, Germany.

 “It is encouraging to see the high calibre of scientific research that went into the submissions we received,” said Professor Volker Schirrmacher, one of the competition’s judges and retired Head of the Division of Cellular Immunology at The German Cancer Research Centre, Heidelberg, Germany. “Their research could pave the way for further understanding of tumour microenvironment and could potentially help in the development of new therapies in the fight against cancer.”

 “MedImmune is committed to fostering the development of the next generation of leading scientists focused on improving human health. One of our primary objectives at MedImmune is to promote and advance health and science education, and this competition provides us with the opportunity to acknowledge committed and talented researchers pursuing science degrees and postdoctoral research in the field of oncology,” said Klaus Bosslet, Vice President of Research, Oncology, Cambridge. “We were impressed with the standard of work delivered and congratulate all of the ten finalists for getting this far. The students and scientists represented embody the future of exciting cancer research and we at MedImmune are privileged to play a part in their careers by providing some recognition for their hard work.”

 The competition was open to graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in Europe with ten finalists shortlisted to present their research to an expert panel of judges including Professor Gillian Murphy, Department of Oncology at the University of Cambridge; Professor Volker Schirrmacher, retired Head of the Division of Cellular Immunology at The German Cancer Research Centre, Heidelberg, Germany; and two senior MedImmune representatives. The three winners were announced at the awards ceremony in Cambridge University’s historic Peterhouse College following evaluation of their presentations on the basis of scientific merit, innovation and delivery.

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Pharmacy academics contribute to new sensors development
Dr Steven Bell
Dr Steven Bell
Scientists at Queen's University Belfast are developing new sensors to detect chemical agents and illegal drugs which will help in the fight against the threat of terrorist attacks.
 
The devices will use special gel pads to ‘swipe’ an individual or crime scene to gather a sample which is then analysed by a scanning instrument that can detect the presence of chemicals within seconds. This will allow better, faster decisions to be made in response to terrorist threats.
 
The scanning instrument will use Raman Spectroscopy which involves shining a laser beam onto the suspected sample and measuring the energy of light that scatters from it to determine what chemical compound is present. It is so sophisticated it can measure particles of a miniscule scale making detection faster and more accurate.
 
Normally this type of spectroscopy is not sensitive enough to detect low concentrations of chemicals, so here the sample is mixed with nanoscale silver particles which amplify the signals of compounds allowing even the smallest trace to be detected.
 
Dr Steven Bell from the School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at Queen’s, along with Prof David Jones and Dr Colin McCoy from the School of Pharmacy, is leading the research. Dr Bell said: “Although we are still in the middle of the project we have finished much of the preliminary work and are now at the exciting stage where we put the various strands together to produce the integrated sensor device. For the future, we hope to be able to capitalise on this research and expand the range of chemicals and drugs which these sensors are able to detect.”
 
It is hoped the new sensors will also be the basis for developing ‘breathalyzer’ instruments that could be of particular use for roadside drugs testing in much the same way as the police take breathalyzer samples to detect alcohol.
 
At present, police officers are only able to use a Field Impairment Test to determine if a person is driving under the influence of drugs. The accuracy of this method has been questioned because of concerns that it is easy to cheat. 
 
To ensure the technology is relevant, senior staff members from Forensic Science Northern Ireland (FSNI ) will give significant input into the operational aspects of the technology and give feedback as to how it might be used in practice by the wider user community.
 
Stan Brown, Chief Executive of FSNI said: “We consider the work being carried out by researchers at Queen’s University extremely important and potentially very useful in driving forward the effectiveness, efficiency and speed of forensic science practice.
 
“The combination of leading edge research and hands-on experience of FSNI’s practitioners has already proven very fruitful and is likely to lead to significant developments in forensic methodologies across a range of specialisms.”
 
In the future this technology could have a number of important applications and according to Dr Bell: “There are numerous areas, from medical diagnostics to environmental monitoring, where the ability to use simple field tests to detect traces of important indicator compounds would be invaluable.”

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One in four nursing home residents carries MRSA

MRSA is a major problem in nursing homes with one in four residents carrying the bacteria, a study by Queen’s University Belfast and Antrim Area Hospital has found.

Its authors say that the findings, which have been published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, highlight the need for infection control strategies to be given a higher priority in nursing homes.

The study, funded by the Health and Social Care Research and Development Office Northern Ireland, thought to be the largest of its kind studying MRSA in private nursing homes in the UK, took nose swabs from 1,111 residents and 553 staff in 45 nursing homes in the former Northern Board area of Northern Ireland.

Twenty-four per cent of residents and 7 per cent of staff were found to be colonised with MRSA, meaning they were carrying the bacteria but not necessarily showing signs of infection or illness.

Residents in 42 of the homes were colonised with MRSA, with recorded rates in individual nursing homes ranging from zero to 73 per cent.

Staff in 28 of the homes carried the bacteria with prevalence rates ranging from zero to 28 per cent.

Dr Paddy Kearney, Consultant Medical Microbiologist with the Northern Health and Social Care Trust, said: “We decided to carry out the study after noticing an apparent increase in recent years in the number of patients who had MRSA when they were admitted to hospital from nursing homes.

“In hospitals routine checks are carried out to identify those most at risk of MRSA colonisation (carrying it on their skin and/or nose) and infection control policies are put in place but this is not always feasible in private nursing homes.”

Dr Michael Tunney, Senior Lecturer in Clinical Pharmacy, from Queen’s University’s School of Pharmacy, said: “This is the first study which has reported prevalence of MRSA among staff in nursing homes in the UK and found that staff need to be more aware of the potential problem MRSA can be in this setting.”

Professor Carmel Hughes, a Director of Research in the School of Pharmacy, added: “In order to combat this problem, two approaches could be considered: improved education and training of staff, and removing MRSA from people who are colonised with it, using suitable creams and washes.

“Further studies looking at these approaches need to be carried out.”

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'The Times' Good University Guide 2010

The School of Pharmacy at Queen's has been ranked as the Number 1 Pharmacy School in 'The Times' Good University Guide 2010, published on June 4th 2009. The Guide takes into account research, as determined by the results of the 2008 RAE (UK Research Assessment Exercise) and teaching quality (as determined by, amongst other measures, student satisfaction surveys).  Commenting on the 2010 listing, Prof. David Woolfson, Head of School, said "The excellent outcome achieved by the School in RAE 2008, together with our long history of delivering high quality pharmacy education for our students, has been recognised in this latest league table.  It is a result of the hard work and commitment of our staff, the quality of our students and the support we have received from the University and key donors.  With the world class facilities that we now offer for teaching and research, I am confident that the School will maintain its position as a leading centre for research and teaching in Pharmacy and the Pharmaceutical Sciences".

For information: The Times Guide, published annually, lists both Pharmacy and Pharmacology (two distinct subjects) in a single table, with Queen's (2nd in the table) being the top ranked UK School of Pharmacy.

Click here to see the full listing.

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John A. King Medicinal Chemistry Research Laboratories Officially Opened
Prof Woolfson, Dr King and the Vice-Chancellor, Prof Gregson
Prof Woolfson, Dr King and the Vice-Chancellor, Prof Gregson
Medicinal Chemistry Laboratory
Medicinal Chemistry Laboratory

A state-of-the-art pharmacy laboratory aimed at discovering new drugs for diseases including Alzheimer’s was officially opened on March 13th in the School of Pharmacy, Queen’s University, thanks to a £2million donation by former chief executive of Warner Chilcott, Dr John King.

The John A. King Medicinal Chemistry Research Laboratories at the School of Pharmacy, on the University’s health sciences campus, have been funded by Dr King, who began his career in medicinal chemistry research as a lecturer at Queen’s in the 1970s after graduating with first class honours and PhD degrees in pharmacy from the University.

Head of the School of Pharmacy at Queen’s Professor David Woolfson said the donation had also funded opportunities for young researchers to be trained to doctoral level.

He continued: “With this generous gift, the School is establishing an international team of leading researchers in the vital area of drug discovery.

“The new facility will make a key contribution to our research programmes in the fundamental aspects of drug target identification and drug discovery.

“It represents the latest phase in the growth of a dynamic School that is now one of the leading academic centres for pharmaceutical science research in the UK and Ireland.”

Dr King has enjoyed remarkable success in the pharmaceutical industry and in 2004 he led the sale of Warner Chilcott to private equity partners for £1.6 billion. He retired from his position as executive chairman in 2005 and is now non-executive director of the company.

Dr King said: “As a former student, former lecturer and honorary graduate of Queen’s, I have a long-standing relationship with the University, and I am delighted to give support to the development of medicinal chemistry within the School of Pharmacy.

“I am pleased to support cutting-edge research into important areas including drug discovery for age-related diseases. I hope these facilities will further enhance the reputation of Queen’s pharmacy as a world-class research institute.”

A multi-national team has been recruited to work in the new lab including Dr Andrea Guiotto, who joined the School of Pharmacy from Institute of Biomolecular Chemistry of the Italian National Research Council and Dr Michael Decker, who moved to the School from Harvard Medical School in the USA and Jena University, Germany.

Dr Decker said that the ultimate aim of their research was to find novel compounds to help in the treatment and diagnosis of dementias. 

He added: "Andrea Guiotto and I will be focusing on the discovery of new drug treatments for age-related diseases, including those that impair memory, for example, devastating conditions such as Alzheimer's.

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New Head for School of Pharmacy
Prof. David Woolfson is the new Head of the School of Pharmacy at Queen's.  He takes over the position from Prof. Sean Gorman, who has been appointed as Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Health and Life Sciences. 

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Excellent RAE 2008 Result

Excellent Result for the School of Pharmacy

The School of Pharmacy achieved a superb outcome in the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE). The School had 15% of its research classified in the highest 4* category (world-leading research), 40% was graded as  internationally excellent' (3*) and a further 40% was recognised  as  of international quality (2*) .

The table below gives the overall research profile for the School, as determined by the Pharmacy Panel (Unit of Assessment 13).

RAE 2008 GRADED PROFILE :

SCHOOL OF PHARMACY AT QUEEN'S

 

4*

3*

2*

1*

U

Weighted

Average

 

15

40

40

5

0

2.65

 

Click HERE for background information on the UK Research Assessment Exercise 2008 and for definitions of the research quality levels used to arrive at the graded profile.

Click HERE for the RAE 2008 results for all UK Pharmacy Schools in Unit of Assessment 13 (PHARMACY)

Click here for the full story.

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The School of Pharmacy hosts 2 IAESTE students
The School of Pharmacy hosts 2 IAESTE students
L-R Dr Brendan Gilmore, Nina Saban, Amanda Fernandes Rossi, Dr Ryan Donnelly

The School of Pharmacy is hosting two visiting international students this summer as part of a programme organised by the International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience (IAESTE).

Nina Saban, from Slovenia, is working with Dr Brendan Gilmore and Amanda Fernandes Rossi, from Brazil, is working with Dr Ryan Donnelly.

The School of Pharmacy recognises and supports the value of the IAESTE programme, which allows students to enhance their technical and professional development and to promote international understanding and goodwill amongst students, academic institutions, employers and the wider community.

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New €5m virtual research centre to focus on vulnerable groups

A Queen's academic will play a major role in researching medication prescribed to vulnerable groups, especially the elderly, through a new €5m virtual Health Research Centre which is being launched today.

Professor Carmel Hughes from the School of Pharmacy will take part in a five year programme through the Health Research Board's Centre for Primary Care Research.

It aims to improve the health of the elderly, pregnant women and drug users across Ireland. The project also involves researchers from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Trinity College, the Coombe Hospital, Tallaght Hospital and St James’ Hospital, all in Dublin.

The team will examine the quality of care provided to vulnerable patient groups and aims to identify quality standards for safely prescribing medicines. It also hopes to improve diagnosis in primary care and develop new information and communications technologies to improve patient care and promote self-management among patients with chronic illness. Professor Hughes said: “‘I will be working in close collaboration with colleagues from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and Trinity College Dublin and will focus on projects associated with prescribing in a number of vulnerable groups particularly older people.

“We hope that this extensive five year research programme will result in the development of new approaches to improve the health of those living in the community on the island of Ireland.”

Professor Tom Fahey, Principal Investigator at the Centre, said: “Funding is important because it recognises that we can do more to identify and improve the quality of medical care that vulnerable patient groups in Ireland receive.”

The Health Research Board has received €10m funding from the Irish government through the Strategy for Science Technology and Innovation to set up two virtual centres. The second will focus on diet, diabetes and obesity. The centres will provide a hub for health research efforts of 11 universities, institutions and hospitals throughout Ireland.

The funding was announced by Mary Harney, Irish Minister for Health and Children, in Dublin.

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Queen's London Award recognises fight against infectious disease
At the KTP Awards are (from left): Dr Shane Olwill, Fusion Antibodies Limited; Dr Chris Scott, School of Pharmacy, Queen's University; Dr Henry Kwok, KTP Associate and Dr David Way, Technology Strategy Board.
At the KTP Awards are (from left): Dr Shane Olwill, Fusion Antibodies Limited; Dr Chris Scott, School of Pharmacy, Queen's University; Dr Henry Kwok, KTP Associate and Dr David Way, Technology Strategy Board.

A Queen's University project which speeds up the production of a diagnostic kit for infectious diseases has won a major national award. The University won the Knowledge Transfer Partnership Northern Ireland Regional Award for its work with local biotech company Fusion Antibodies, based in Dunmurry.

KTP Associate Dr Henry Kwok’s work in developing the partnership between Fusion and the School of Pharmacy began in 2004. Dr Kwok’s work enabled Fusion to produce protein from a target DNA sequence within a third of the usual time. The process will be used in a range of applications in basic research, diagnostics and therapeutics.

Research leader Dr Chris Scott, from the School of Pharmacy, welcomed the award: “The project was an excellent opportunity to work collaborating with Fusion Antibodies. This has led to further growth and expansion of the company.

“These proteins can be used in the battle against infectious diseases and the development of cancer diagnostics and therapeutics. Plans are under way to produce the kit commercially.

“This is an excellent example of the way in which Queen’s can help to produce jobs and revenue in Northern Ireland.”

Dr Kwok said: “KTP offered me a unique chance to develop my scientific career by working in both industrial and academic environments which gave me a chance to learn valuable managerial and technical experience.”

Dr Shane Olwill, of Fusion Antibodies, said: “The KTP programme allowed us to overcome bottle necks in our production capabilities. Our partners at Queen’s introduced some key improvements allowing scale-up of protein production in a cost-effective manner.”

The Head of the Knowledge Transfer Centre at Queen’s, Dr Mary Flynn, said: “Our work provides opportunities for academic staff to reach out to local industry, gather real material for research papers and grants and case study material for teaching, final year and MSC projects.”

The partnership contributed to curriculum development in the School of Pharmacy on aspects of biotechnology and drug development.

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Pharmacy Winter Graduation
Staff with students after graduation
Staff with students after graduation
Hong Kong pharmacist graduates with MSc in Clinical Pharmacy
Hong Kong pharmacist graduates with MSc in Clinical Pharmacy

The School’s MSc students traditionally graduate at the Winter Graduation ceremony each year. For the School’s staff, this is often the first opportunity to meet with the students as they undertake the courses in their own workplace by distance learning. In addition, it is often the first opportunity for the students to visit Belfast and to see around the School and the University. This year, the farthest travelled MSc student was Ms. Wendy Chan, pharmacist in St. Teresa’s Hospital, Hong Kong who attended the ceremony with her parents. Wendy graduated with an MSc in Clinical Pharmacy. Also present were staff members Professor Gorman (Head of School), Dr Chen (MSc supervisor) and Mr McCaw (Distance Learning Manager).

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School Prize Giving Evening
Prof Sean Gorman and Laura Gillanders
Prof Sean Gorman and Laura Gillanders
Prof Sean Gorman and Claire Mitchell
Prof Sean Gorman and Claire Mitchell

The School of Pharmacy and the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland (PSNI) held their Annual Prize Giving Evening on Tuesday 13th November in the Great Hall at Queen’s.

Cathay Burnside won the Gold Medal from the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland for overall distinction in Pharmacy. Other notable prize winners included Claire Mitchell who won the prize from The Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain for distinction in Level 4 studies as well as the PSNI prize for distinction in clinical studies and the McNeil Ltd prize for distinction in responding to symptoms.

Laura Gillanders won a total of 5 prizes including the QUB Foundation Award for distinction in Level 2 studies, the Warner Chilcott Ltd Award for distinction in Level 2 Medicinal Substances, the TG Eakin prize for distinction in Level 2 Principles of Drug Action, The Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology prize for distinction in Level 2 Pharmaceutical Technology and the Aventis prize for distinction in Level 2 Formulation and Dispensing.

Professor Sean Gorman, Head of School, congratulated all the prize winners and commended them on their very high levels of achievement.

 

 

Prize night Group photo
Prize winners with (from left) Prof JC McElnay (Dean), Raymond Anderson (President PSNI), Prof Bill Scott (Chief Pharmaceutical Officer of Scotland) and Prof S Gorman (Head of School)

Other prize winners included:

Felicia Garvey: Sangers (NI) Ltd prize for distinction in Professional and Management Studies.

Rebecca Houston: Pfizer Ltd prize for the best Level 4 science project.

Kimberley Little: Medicare prize for the best Level 4 practical project.

Rebecca Craig: Dr DF McCafferty Shield and prize for distinction in combined pharmaceutical sciences.

Karen Alexander: Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology prize for distinction in Level 3 studies and the Ulster Chemists Association prize for distinction in level 3 clinical pharmacy / pharmacology.

Samuel Stevenson: International Journal of Pharmacy Practice prize for distinction in pharmacy practice – proprietary dispensing.

Fiona Treacey: International Journal of Pharmacy Practice prize for distinction in pharmacy practice – social and behavioural aspects.

Judith Graham: Dr WM Mawhinney award for Pharmaceutical Legislation (Level 3).

Erin McBride: QUB Foundation Award for distinction in Level 1 studies and the National Pharmacy Association prize for distinction in Level 1 Pharmaceutics.

Hannah McMillan: Warner Chilcott Ltd award for distinction in Level 1 Physiochemical Principles of Pharmacy.

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School success noted in The Irish Times
Click here to download THE IRISH TIMES article in pdf format.

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IAESTE success for Pharmacy students

IAESTE provides local students with the opportunity to go on course-related placements in different countries throughout the world.

In 2007, 3 of the 9 IAESTE students selected as contenders for the IAESTE UK Northern Ireland Trainee of the Year Award were from the School of Pharmacy, Queen’s University Belfast. The School was delighted that these students’ achievements were recognised and especially pleased that Joanne McCaffery was named as the overall winner.

Joanne travelled to Brazil where she worked in a community Pharmacy in Nhandeara. This provided Joanne with the opportunity to experience the differences in how Community Pharmacies in other countries operate compared to the UK. Joanne also worked in a manipulation Pharmacy, which involved combining a patient's drugs into one capsule for ease of administration where she found that her experience of extemporaneous preparation, covered in Level 2 of the MPharm programme, came in very useful. Joanne also spent a few days working in Braile Biomedica, a biomedical company located in Sao Jose Rio Preto as well as two days working in the research laboratories of São Paulo University where she was able to learn DNA extraction techniques.

Matthew Muldoon spent his IAESTE placement in Rijeka in northern Croatia working with the pharmaceutical company Jadran Galenski Laboratorij (JGL). JGL is a fast-growing pharmaceutical research company, which produces a vast array of products from pharmaceuticals to cosmetics. During his time with JGL Matthew was involved in all aspects of the production of gels, creams and ointments and, as a result, Matthew developed a range of new skills and knowledge about the production process.

Steven O’Hara spent 8 weeks at the Pharmacy Department at the Universität Halle in Germany working on sugar esters, which are widely used in the food and cosmetic industry. Steven’s work focused on determining whether the sugar ester could control the release of drug to allow the drug’s action to be prolonged and result in the patient requiring fewer doses. This work provided Steven with the opportunity to find out first-hand what exactly was involved in working in research in the area of drug delivery and provided an insight into potential career opportunities for him in research. Steven also particularly enjoyed the opportunity to meet new people and to learn about another culture.

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Queen's to host new $1.5 million HIV Microbicide research laboratory

The International Partnership for Microbicides (IPM), based in Washington DC, is providing US$1.5 million in funding to establish a new research unit in the School of Pharmacy at Queen's University Belfast. The unit will study controlled release delivery systems for microbicides that may help prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS. Microbicides are vaginal products being developed to reduce the transmission of HIV during sexual intercourse. The new laboratory will be under the direction of Professor David Woolfson and Dr. Karl Malcolm.

"IPM’s support for this new laboratory recognizes Prof. Woolfson and Dr. Malcolm’s leadership in the development of new methods to safely and effectively deliver a microbicide that could one day save millions of lives from HIV/AIDS," said Dr. Joseph Romano, Executive Director for Research and Development at IPM.

Prof. Woolfson and Dr. Malcolm have pioneered efforts to develop controlled release systems for vaginal drug delivery through existing long-term research relationships with IPM and many other international centres of excellence in HIV/AIDS microbicide and mucosal vaccine research.

"Given the scale of the HIV pandemic, particularly in areas like sub-Saharan Africa, we urgently need effective female-initiated, coitally-independent microbicide products to protect women in particular, and society in general, from the scourge of HIV/AIDS," said Prof. Woolfson, Director of Pharmaceutical Sciences Research in the School of Pharmacy at Queen's. "We hope the new laboratory will make a significant contribution towards achieving this goal."

The new IPM laboratory is scheduled to open within the School of Pharmacy's McClay Research Centre in November 2007, and will employ three postdoctoral drug delivery scientists. The lab will focus on various formulation projects, including polymeric vaginal rings (IVR) for the prolonged delivery of microbicides. The Queen's team has already played a major role in designing an IVR delivery system for the NNRTI microbicidal agent, dapivirine, IPM's lead candidate product, which is currently in clinical trials.

IPM is a non-profit product development partnership established in 2002 to prevent HIV transmission by accelerating the development and availability of a safe and effective microbicide for use by women in developing countries. As part of this effort, IPM designs optimal formulations and delivery systems for microbicide compounds before taking products through the clinical and regulatory pipeline.

IPM is committed to providing women with an affordable and self-initiated HIV-prevention method that will reduce the cycle of infection. HIV AIDS has led to the deaths of more than 25 million people worldwide and orphaned more than 15 million children since 1981. Like the promise of a future AIDS vaccine, microbicides represent an essential component of an integrated and comprehensive global response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

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Minimizing side effects: Queen's scientists report new drug delivery system
Dr Colin McCoy
Dr Colin McCoy
A new drug dosing system controlled by light has been developed by scientists at Queen’s University Belfast. The system could allow the long-sought ability to deliver drugs where, when, and in the exact doses, required.  This would maximize their effect and reduce side effects and damage to healthy parts of the body.

Dr Colin P. McCoy and colleagues from the School of Pharmacy at Queen’s describe their new molecular-scale dosing devices as “a new paradigm for precise control of drug dosing using light.”

The devices consist of medications combined with certain chemical compounds that respond to light in ways that release precisely controlled amounts of the drug.  Drug release begins when light falls on the compounds, and lasts only as long as the light continues to shine.

Their study, which is reported in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, showed successful laboratory tests of the system in the controlled release of three common medications used to treat pain and inflammation — aspirin, ibuprofen and ketoprofen.

Explaining some of the potential uses for the new method, Dr McCoy said: “One potential use we cited in the study would be in the treatment of urinary catheter infections, where the drug is held latently in the catheter, and is released when needed using light from a fibre optic. The system could likewise be used for other conditions using an implant under the skin for precisely controlled drug dosing.”

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New academic posts in Medicinal Chemistry
Following generous donation to the School by Dr. John A. King, formerly Executive Chairman of Warner Chilcott Inc., the School is pleased to announce the establishment of a new research programme in medicinal chemistry. The programme will be led by the John A. King Chair in Medicinal Chemistry, for which post applications are now invited. Exceptional start-up funding in excess of £1M will be available for this post. Applications are also invited for a new Lectureship in Medicinal Chemistry. Please go to our ‘Vacancies’ section for further details of both these posts. The closing date for applications is September 28th 2007 at 4 pm.

 

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Excellent MPharm Degree class results for 2007
Graduation Photo 2007
Graduation 2007

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The School of Pharmacy is delighted to announce that a total of 90.8% of final year students gained a 1st class or 2.i honours degree in the MPharm course this year.

Professor Sean Gorman, Head of School, commented: “I am extremely pleased at this outcome, which is a reflection of the high quality of the Pharmacy students graduating from Queen’s University.The School had a 100% pass rate with 48 students graduating with a First class honours and 60 students graduating with an upper second class degree”. Professor Gorman also praised the enormous effort by students and staff to achieve such a successful result and wished the students every success with their future career in Pharmacy.

Download a larger version of the graduation photograph for 2007. (Right click on the photo that opens and choose Save or Print from the menu.)

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School of Pharmacy Donation
Prof. Sean Gorman (Head of School), Mr Rory Graham, Prof. David Woolfson (Director of Research)
From left: Prof. Sean Gorman (Head of School), Mr Rory Graham, Prof. David Woolfson (Director of Research)

Queen’s School of Pharmacy has received the gift of an antique Pharmacy sign originating from France and brought to London sometime in the early 20th century. It was extensively renovated in 2001 by the foundry responsible for the metalwork at the Palais de Versailles. The sign, which has been erected beside the School’s Pharmacy, was presented by Rory Graham who graduated in 1990 from the School. Following the recent sale of his London Pharmacy he retained the wrought iron Pharmacy sign and had it extensively re-gilded for donation to the University. Professor Sean Gorman, Head of the School, said “The School of Pharmacy is delighted to receive such a wonderful reminder of the long traditions of the Pharmacy profession. We especially appreciate the thoughtfulness of past students in making such gifts.” Fellow students will recall that Rory was Student President. He subsequently graduated from the London Business School with an MBA and has held senior positions in the international pharmaceutical industry including MSD, Servier, BMS, Inamed and is currently Head of Regulatory Affairs in CSL Bioplasma and living in Melbourne, Australia.

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International Radiation Conference Comes to Queen’s
Dr Tracy Robson, Prof David Hirst, Prof Sean Gorman and Dr Mohirez Rezvani
Dr Mohirez Rezvani, Chair of ARR, Prof Sean Gorman, Head of School of Pharmacy, QUB, Prof David Hirst and Dr Tracy Robson, Conference organisers.
Prof Sean Gorman speaking at the opening of the ARR conference
Prof Sean Gorman speaking at the opening of the ARR conference

The School of Pharmacy hosted the Association for Radiation Research (ARR) Annual Conference from 3rd – 5th April 2007 (http://www.gci.ac.uk/usr/arr/home.html ).  The ARR is the pre-eminent UK based society for radiation research.  This meeting was organised by Dr Tracy Robson, the Association’s Secretary, and Prof David Hirst both from the School of Pharmacy, together with Dr Joe O’Sullivan and colleagues at the Clinical Cancer Centre and Dr Fred Currell from the School of Mathematics and Physics. It brought together 120 scientists from around the world - the USA, Canada, South Africa, Russia and Europe - to discuss all aspects of Radiation Science from environmental to therapeutic.  This conference came at a time when the multiple influences and roles of radiation in our lives are frequently in the news: environmental hazards, nuclear power and increasingly effective cancer therapy.

In bringing its annual conference to Ireland for the first time the society and the Radiation Science community recognise the international profile of research in this field at the two Universities in Northern Ireland.  Queen’s in particular has made a major investment in this area with the recruitment Prof Hirst and Dr Robson and more recently of Prof Kevin Prise and his research team from the prestigious Gray Cancer Institute; new clinical appointments in Radiation Therapy are also planned including a Professor of Radiation Oncology. Queen’s will also be jointly funding a new research linear accelerator at the Clinical Cancer Centre.

 

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Professor Carmel Hughes announced as Practice Chair for British Pharmaceutical Conference 2008
Prof Carmel Hughes
Prof Carmel Hughes

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain has announced that Professor Carmel Hughes is to be the British Pharmaceutical Conference Practice Chair for 2008. The news release states that:

Professor Carmel Hughes is Professor of Primary Care Pharmacy at Queen’s University Belfast and member of the Clinical and Practice Research Group. She is the first pharmacist to have been awarded the Harkness Fellowship in Healthcare Policy and is currently the only pharmacist to have received the honour of a National Primary Care Career Scientist Award from the NHS Executive.

 

Professor Hughes’ research focuses on long-term care for the elderly, rational prescribing, the interface between general practitioners and pharmacists, and evidence based health care. Currently she is undertaking studies through controlled trials in nursing homes evaluating the impact of an infection control intervention, and will soon begin work on the potential impact of organisational culture on prescribing in nursing homes, which is being funded by the RPSGB through its Academic Excellence Awards.

At the BPC 2001 Professor Hughes was awarded the Practice Research Medal, and says of her appointment as the BPC 2008 Practice chair:

“It’s an honour to have been elected as the Practice Chair for 2008.Pharmacy practice research has developed over the years in terms of quality and importance in health care research generally, and the British Pharmaceutical Conference is an excellent vehicle to promote and celebrate this research.”

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Dr John A. King honoured by Queen's
Dr John King and Prof Sean Gorman
Dr John King with Prof Sean Gorman, Head of School

Former Chief Executive of GalenHoldings Dr John King has been honoured by Queen’s University.

At the Summer 2006 graduation ceremony, he was awarded a Doctorate of Science for services to the pharmaceutical industry in Northern Ireland.

Delivering the citation, Professor Sean Gorman, head of Queen’s School of Pharmacy said: “During the 20 years from joining Galen to its listing on the stock exchange John King was responsible for growing a small local manufacturing unit in Craigavon to a multi-site, transatlantic specialty pharmaceuticals company.He engineered the development of Galen through a judicious mixture of organic growth and strategic acquisitions. Over time, Dr King developed the business from a manufacturing to a genuine research-based company that also contained a strong services sector providing chemical manufacturing and specialised clinical trials supplies to the multinational pharmaceutical industry.

“The transformation of the company was by no means complete at this stage though. In May 2000, Galen acquired the US-based drugs company Warner Chilcott taking the market value of Galen over £1billion for the first time. This acquisition provided Galen with a substantial distribution network in the US for its expanding drug delivery product range targeted at women’s healthcare and dermatology. Galen was now recognised as a substantial national and international pharmaceutical company and, inevitably, attracted a number of suitors. In November 2004 the company was acquired for £1.6 billion.”

John King graduated from Queen’s in 1971 with a first class honours degree in Pharmacy, also receiving the prestigious Gold Medal of the Pharmaceutical Society of NI. He embarked upon his PhD studies, and in 1972, Queen’s appointed him to a Lectureship in Pharmaceutical Chemistry in the Department.

In 1976 he became Academic Secretary of FIP, the International Pharmaceutical Federation. He left the University in 1978 to begin his long association with Galen, which he joined as Technical Manager. becoming Technical Director and, in 1985, Managing Director. He subsequently became Chief Executive Officer and prepared the company for its successful stock market flotation in 1997 becoming Executive Chairman in 2000.

Professor Gorman said that during Dr King’s highly successful career, he continued to maintain his connections with Queen’s.

He said: “He fostered close ties with the University through research and business alliances with the School of Pharmacy, where a specialist Drug Delivery Research Unit was established in 1996, and the School of Chemistry, through the purchase of a major interest in QUCHEM Ltd. As the company grew, it also became a major employer of highly skilled graduates from Queen’s and elsewhere. John King has also seen the School of Pharmacy at Queen’s grow substantially since he left in 1978. Recognising the potential for further growth, Dr King has this year made a significant donation allowing the creation of a Chair and research team in Pharmaceutical Chemistry – his original research interest.”

For further information contact: Anne Langford, Tel 028 9097 5310

 

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MPhil in Pharmaceutical Biotechnology

This new teaching programme in Pharmaceutical Biotechnology will be available in Sept 2006.

 

Unit title: MPhil programme in Pharmaceutical Biotechnology

Programme co-ordinators: Professors Walker & Shaw & Dr Chen

Purpose: To offer a one-year research masters programme in Pharmaceutical Biotechnology, to be run through the School of Pharmacy, in collaboration with the University of Fuzhou, PRC

Duration: 1 Academic year

Proposed start date: September 2006

Projected numbers of students: 12 (2006)

Entrance requirements: BSc Honours or equivalent


Course description: Each student will undertake a research project on a topic that is directly relevant to the on-going research activities of the programme co-ordinators. The results of the research project will be presented in the form of a thesis that will be examined by an external assessor. The programme is designed to give students an understanding of the core science and technology bases that underpin the development of protein, peptide and small molecule pharmaceuticals and methods of drug delivery. The students will receive training in modern methods of peptide isolation and characterisation, recombinant protein expression, molecular biology, drug design and several aspects of molecular pharmacology including receptor and enzyme assays. In addition, they will receive a formal training in general research methods. The practical component of the programme will be complemented by formal lectures and tutorials.

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Queen's Professor to lead British Pharmacopoeia Commission

David Woolfson, Professor of Pharmaceutics in the School of Pharmacy at Queen's University Belfast, has been appointed as the new Chair of the British Pharmacopoeia Commission.

The British Pharmacopoeia Commission was established by the UK Medicines Act 1968 and is responsible for setting and publishing legally enforceable, authoritative quality standards for drugs and pharmaceutical products. It plays a major role in the safeguarding of public health, ensuring that medicines bearing the letters 'BP' after their names meet the same quality standards, irrespective of the manufacturer.

In his role as Chair of the Commission, Professor Woolfson will also lead the United Kingdom delegation to the European Pharmacopoeia Commission in Strasbourg. Through this delegation the UK is also a major contributor to the development of common quality standards for drugs throughout 35 European states. The British Pharmacopoeia - an authoritative list of medicinal products - incorporates these standards into its yearly publication of monographs.

Professor Woolfson has been a member of the British Pharmacopoeia Commission since 1998. He also currently serves as the Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Pharmacy and, in Europe, as a member of the United Kingdom delegation to the European Pharmacopoeia Commission and of its Group of Experts on Formulated Pharmaceutical Products.

Commenting on his appointment, Professor Woolfson said "It will be a great honour but also a great challenge to lead the British Pharmacopoeia Commission during a period where we are seeking to further develop common international quality standards for pharmaceutical products in order to facilitate the efficient development of safe, effective medicines for the UK and the international community".

Director of Research in the Queen's School of Pharmacy's McClay Research Centre for Pharmaceutical Sciences, Professor Woolfson's own research interests focus on advanced drug delivery systems. Most recently, his work has focused in particular on novel intravaginal drug delivery strategies for the prevention of the heterosexual transmission of HIV AIDS.

Notes:
The British Pharmacopoeia Commission is responsible for preparing new editions of the British Pharmacopoeia and the British Pharmacopoeia (Veterinary) and for keeping them up-to-date. It also provides advice to the United Kingdom delegation to the European Pharmacopoeia Commission, of which the United Kingdom is a member. The BPC is also responsible, under Section 100 of the Medicines Act, for selecting and devising British Approved Names (BANs).

The Pharmacopoeia contributes to the overall control of the quality of medicinal products by providing an authoritative statement of the quality that a product is expected to meet at any time during its period of use. The publicly available and legally enforceable Pharmacopoeial standards are designed to complement and assist the licensing and inspection processes and are part of the system for safeguarding purchasers and users of medicinal products. www.pharmacopoeia.org.uk

For further information, please contact: Communications Office, 028 9097 3087

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Details of PhD projects for September 2011 now available
Details of proposed PhD projects for September 2011 entry are now available on the School's homepage (under the 'Vacancies' tab). Additional project titles will be available soon.

The School of Pharmacy at Queen's welcomes applications for postgraduate research from a wide range of undergraduate disciplines. The School of Pharmacy also accepts applications from self-funding students; self-funding students are responsible for the payment of full tuition fees (at either UK or International rates) and all living costs (accommodation, food, etc). The assessment criteria for self-funding applications are the same as those for funded applications, i.e. educational qualifications and quality of application.

The University will be launching a new online postgraduate application portal at the beginning of December 2010 for applicants who wish to commence their studies in September/October 2011. You are advised to apply through the new online postgraduate application portal when it becomes available. However, if you wish to make an application now, you may continue to do so through the current online application portal.

 

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