Bridging Pharmacology Communities: The Cross-Institutional Students' Societies Event 

Published: 18 Apr 2024
By Qasim Abbassi

As the academic term approached its close, a group of passionate pharmacologists from various London universities came together to organise an extraordinary event. Fuelled by the vision of fostering a vibrant, interdisciplinary pharmacology community, the Cross-Institutional Students' Societies Event was born. 

Made possible with the support of a British Pharmacological Society (BPS) Ambassadors Grant, this endeavour was organised by Dr Samir Ayoub (UEL), Dr Aisah Aubdool (QMUL), Prof. Alasdair Gibb (UCL), and Dr Cristina Perez-Ternero (QMUL & University of Seville), who performed fantastically in promoting the Society and increasing awareness of ways to connect with other students. Apart from being able to interact with other students both nationally and internationally, students were granted the valuable opportunity to enhance their communication skills by presenting their work to their peers and receive feedback from a diverse group of pharmacologists (students, early career researchers, academic staff).  

On 13  March 2024, the University of East London's Stratford Campus became a buzzing hub of scientific exchange and excitement. With a meticulously planned schedule accommodating both in-person and virtual attendees, the event welcomed a diverse gathering of approximately 50 undergraduate and postgraduate pharmacology enthusiasts.  

The event was an ideal way for undergraduate students to come together.

The day commenced with a warm welcome and introductions, setting the tone for the engaging sessions that followed. Attendees had the opportunity to present their research projects, literature reviews and personal experiences, receiving invaluable feedback from a multidisciplinary peer group. 

Poster presentations and networking breaks facilitated lively discussions and the forging of new connections, fostering potential future cross-institutional collaborations. The highlight of the day, however, was the electrifying Pharmacology University Challenge, a thrilling quiz that tested the depth and breadth of participants' pharmacological knowledge. Not only did it test their knowledge, but it also fostered a friendly competitive spirit. All participating team members were awarded Amazon gift cards as prizes, equating to different values depending on the final ranking, adding to the overall excitement and sense of accomplishment. 

At the end of the event, the organisers awarded prizes for the best poster and oral presentations, as well as to the champions of the Pharmacology University Challenge. The sense of accomplishment and camaraderie was palpable, with attendees expressing their gratitude through heartfelt LinkedIn posts and personal messages. 

Feedback from attendees

"The cross-institutional event helped me recognize that pharmacology is not just a degree, but a bustling community beyond university that I'm excited to be a part of." - Mohamed Elameri, Pharmacology University Challenge winning team, Second Year Pharmacology Student at UCL. 

"It was uplifting to meet fellow pharmacology students and connect over our passion for the subject as well as our personal interests. Winning the university challenge was so rewarding." - Iryna Muravska, Pharmacology University Challenge winning team, Second Year Pharmacology Student at UCL. 

"Loved the 'by students, for students' format of the event. Had a chance to meet fellow pharmacology students from other unis which is not a very frequent opportunity. Also, the Pharmacology University Challenge rocks!" -   Bartosz Pajak, Final Year Pharmacology Student at QMUL. 

"The event was a phenomenal opportunity to network with other students, learn about their experiences and future plans. I am honoured to have been able to take part and meet so many wonderful, passionate and like-minded individuals." - Natalia Grzesik, Final Year Pharmacology Student at QMUL. 

"Participating in this event underscored the vital importance of collaboration in advancing pharmacology. Together, we can drive innovation, elevate learning, and make meaningful contributions to the field." - Wendy Gomez, Master of Science Student in Biomedical Engineering at QMUL. 

“Pharmacology University Challenge was amazing, and it was so fun to face off against students from QMUL and UCL. It was also great to hear talks about other students’ experiences.” - Peter Ashdown, final year pharmacology student at UEL

"This event was an eye-opening experience that greatly expanded my knowledge and understanding of the pharmaceutical industry. It allowed me to gain valuable insights into potential career paths and solidified my interest in pursuing a career in this field." - Kristy Li, Final Year Pharmacology Student at QMUL. 

Attendees loved going head to head for Pharmacology University Challenge!

The importance of building community

The event provided an enriching experience for all attendees, and its £750 budget supported its delivery, including catering, prizes for the best poster and oral presentation and quiz, and a platform for showcasing academic excellence.  

Support from a BPS Ambassador Grant supported the event, including the prizegiving.

According to facilitator Dr. Aisah Aubdool, "The idea of setting up this unique event originated from a discussion at our recent Ambassador Update meeting between myself, Dr. Samir Ayoub, and Prof. Alasdair Gibb with the aim of providing a pharmacological networking platform for Pharmacology students studying in London. With the assistance of Dr. Cristina Perez-Ternero, we also endeavoured to reach students in Spain. The organization of this meeting was facilitated by establishing a student focus group representing each university. The award of the BPS ambassador grants was essential for this event. The event was successful, with excellent engagement from students at different stages of their degrees. We hope this is the first of many forthcoming collaborative Pharmacological Events in London. We look forward to working with other regional universities to build up our network with the aim of supporting our Pharmacology Students." 

As the new Community Engagement Officer at BPS, attending this event has been incredibly inspiring. It was wonderful to see the passion and talent of the next generation of pharmacologists, and the dedication our community puts into nurturing their growth. This event is a shining example of the transformative impact BPS Ambassadors Grants can have. I left feeling energised and optimistic about the future of our field, and I would encourage any fellow pharmacologists reading this to explore the funding and development opportunities available through the BPS. Your ideas and enthusiasm are what will drive our discipline forward. 


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About the author

Qasim Abbassi

Qasim is the Community Engagement Officer at the British Pharmacological Society, with a background in pharmacology, therapeutics, and scientific teaching. Driven by a deep passion for making pharmacology accessible to all, Qasim is instrumental to the Society's efforts to engage its members and the wider public. His work involves curating impactful events and fostering community partnerships to amplify the interests and voices of the next generation of pharmacologists. Qasim's unwavering commitment to inclusivity and his ability will support the Society's initiatives to expand the reach and impact of our work.

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