Faculty of Pharmacy is ready for ULLA Summer School 2021
July 6-8, the Faculty of Pharmacy will be at the center of European pharmaceutical research when Uppsala University hosts the ULLA Summer School, a meeting place that brings together the future leaders in international pharmacy. "I am convinced that we will create a unique experience," says Andrea Benediktsdottir of the organising committee.
In July 2021, the Faculty of Pharmacy welcomes PhD students from all over Europe to the ULLA Summer School. The biannual event, which was first held in London in 1993, brings together almost 200 selected PhD students and 50 leading researchers for knowledge exchange and networking. For many, it will be one of the highlights of their postgraduate education, and that is nothing a pandemic will change.
“The ULLA Network unites nine of Europe's leading pharmaceutical institutes. With a focus on increased collaboration in research and education, the summer school has grown into something of a flagship event. This is where the future leaders of European pharmacy meet, and a well-executed arrangement entails invaluable goodwill for the host institution. Our organising committee is already far into preparations, and that we work with virtual platforms is not something that limits us,” states Ulf Göransson, Professor of Pharmacognosy.
The summer school’s hallmark is an intensive mix of courses, poster sessions and social activities. Reducing the usual seven on site days to three days online provides a creative challenge, yet the ambition is to make this year's edition the best so far. With a combination of different digital solutions, the group plans to offer a diverse program, guest lecturers of the highest international class and, not least, close interaction between the participants.
“Participating in international conferences is one of the best parts of being a PhD student. Thus, we will do everything to create the same feeling online. Today, there are fantastic opportunities to turn a virtual meeting place into so much more than a list of Zoom links, and when the summer school begins, we will be armed with the arsenal needed to face any form of digital fatigue,” says Lindon Moodie, Associate Senior Lecturer at the Department of Medicinal Chemistry.
As a PhD student, the summer school provides the opportunity to take part in cutting-edge research in European pharmacy. It is also an occasion to present your own research and to make important international contacts. Andrea Benediksdottir, chair of The Pharmaceutical Doctoral Student Council, was one of the participants at ULLA Summer School 2019 which took place in Helsinki.
“For me, the summer school was an extremely important experience. Socialising at such close range provides great insight into how other PhD students conduct their research and the many opportunities that our field offers. Furthermore, I learned a lot at the courses I attended, and above all I met new friends from all over the world who I still keep in touch with. Our ambition is to create the same unique experience online, and that we already have several exciting ideas makes me convinced that we will succeed,” says Andrea Benediksdottir.
The ongoing pandemic does not only affect the external framework of the summer school. The coronavirus is a challenge where all aspects of pharmaceutical science can be crucial, and therefore Covid-19 is allowed to make its mark on several of the courses being planned. Recently, an offer was made to researchers with a focus on vaccines and antiviral and biological drugs to contribute to the program.
“Given the global reach of the pandemic and the impact our field can have in stopping the spread, it was a straightforward decision. But of course we are building a program with a wide range of courses that will deal with other topics in pharmaceutical research. We will also prepare virtual laboratory elements and study visits in some of Uppsala's many high-tech life science environments, including the Testa Center, with which our faculty has a well-developed collaboration,” says Lindon Moodie.
With this year's summer school, the Faculty of Pharmacy hopes to write another successful chapter in the annals of the ULLA network. The event not only aims to prepare its own doctoral students for prominent roles in European pharmacy, but is also an opportunity to lay the foundation for new international research collaborations. For the organising committee, it also provides important exercise for the summer of 2022.
“Our faculty has gained the network's trust to host a new summer school already next summer, of course aiming to welcome the participants on site in Uppsala. To be able to arrange a meeting like this two years in a row is a fantastic opportunity to create lasting ties. I myself participated as a PhD student in the ULLA Summer School 1999 in Copenhagen, and recently met a European colleague who participated the same year, which immediately gave us a lot to talk about. This is simply a context where our field both builds on an important tradition and creates a common future,” says Ulf Göransson.
- ULLA Summer School 2021 will be held July 6-8 and is arranged by the Faculty of Pharmacy at Uppsala University.
- The ULLA consortium was formed in 1992 by the universities of Uppsala, Amsterdam, Leiden and London. Today, another five leading pharmaceutical research institutes have joined the network.
- The primary aim of the ULLA network is to enhance collaboration within education and research in pharmaceutical sciences between the member universities.
- To give improved access to the combined resources of the institutions involved, ULLA provides grants for the exchange of MSc students, PhD students, postdocs and staff.
Professor of Pharmacognosy
Associate Senior Lecturer
text: Magnus Alsne, photo: Mikael Wallerstedt a o, illustration: Andrea Benediktsdottir
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