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Department of Pharmacology


Young Pharmas is an exciting annual outreach scheme headed by Professor Graham Ladd's lab, with support from throughout the Department, in which several hands-on practical sessions give students currently studying biology and chemistry the opportunity to experience what a career in science might be like. We highlight the importance of making accurate scientific measurements and introducing modern techniques such as fluorescence microscopy.

As well as aiding in the understanding of current A-level subjects, the aim of Young Pharmas is to get students thinking about science in a wider context beyond the classroom and give a taster of what life as a University of Cambridge student might be like.

An archive of previous events can be found here.

We are proud to announce that Young Pharmas is now up and running for 2023, after Covid-related disruption!

Further information can be obtained from Dr Emily Taylor.

Young Pharmas 2023

Sixth-formers have returned to Cambridge University to take part in the Young Pharmas scheme. From Hills Road, Long Road, Camberton and The Oaks, they have been carrying out scientific experiments to better understand key pharmacology concepts.

The outreach scheme is headed by Dr Emily Taylor, a member of Professor Graham Ladds' lab, and supported by a range of researchers and PhD students throughout the Department of Pharmacology. The scheme recently restarted following a period of disruption.

These 17 students took part in hands-on practicals and poster presentations to experience what studying science at University might be like. The practical sessions introduced modern research techniques such as fluorescent labelling along with commonly used tools such as multi-channel pipettes.

These practical sessions focused on discovering how many proteins are in a cell, how viruses infect cells and a simulation of how drugs affect heart contraction.

In the final event of the scheme, the students produced and presented scientific conference-style posters at Corpus Christi College. There, they presented their findings and experiences while fielding questions from an interested audience.

"It is lovely to see how the YP's students became more confident and proficient in performing experiments and scientific calculations as they progressed across the different YP activities. It was especially good to see how their eyes lit up when using the Floid microscope to observe different proteins and how they were arranged in a pulmonary artery endothelial cell" said Dr Taylor.

A final evening was held on the 28th of March at Corpus Christi College. Students presented their findings in the form of a poster session. Congratulations to Tansy Xue, who won the best poster, and Joe McKibben and Gladys Leung, who won the highly commended poster award. Dr David Bulmer then gave a great talk on the causes of Irritable Bowl Syndrome and his lab's progress in researching the disease.

The scheme was well received by the staff, parents and students. The students mentioned how well the demonstrators engaged with them individually. By participating in the scheme, students have been supplemented with the understanding to place scientific research beyond the classroom.  

Images from the day:

Young Pharmas 2019

Over the past three months, sixteen bright sixth formers from Netherhall, Long Road, Hills Road and Comberton have been busy carrying out scientific experiments and investigating key concepts in pharmacology.

During a day-long Pharmacology Masterclass, students were given an undergraduate-style lecture on the structure and function of muscle, and how diseases can be treated by targeting receptor proteins with drugs that influence tissue function.

In small groups, students then got to tackle two practical experiments - an ileum preparation and a Langendorff heart preparation - which demonstrated the effects of various drugs on muscle tissue.

These budding scientists weren’t afraid to ask some seriously insightful questions to the post-doctoral staff and PhD students from the department either!

A final presentation evening was held at Corpus Christi College where students had to present their findings in the form of a poster - congratulations to Ellen Chaplin from Hills Road for winning the prize for best poster!

Prof. Alasdair Coles from the Department of Clinical Neurosciences then delivered an engaging talk about the trials and tribulations of getting the immunotherapy drug alemtuzumab, also known as Campath-1H, into the clinic to treat patients with multiple sclerosis and other immunological illnesses.

Hopefully the department will see some of these Young Pharmas return for their university studies in the future!




Young Pharmas 2018

Tuesday 20th March saw the culmination of the 2018 Young Pharmas course. Students from Hills Road, Long Road and Netherhall 6th form colleges completed two evenings of hands on experiments, followed by a 1-day masterclass where they were really able to get to grip with drug-receptor aspects of pharmacology.

On the final evening of the week, students had to present a poster on some aspect of their work and this year’s winner was Harry Hurst from Long Road - congratulations!

Before presentation of the poster prize, students, parents and staff were given an exciting talk by Dr Amy Milton from the Department of Psychology about the science of drug addiction, a talk that sparked a lot of questions from the audience.