UIC College of Pharmacy selected for industry internship program

More pharmacy students at the University of Illinois at Chicago will have the opportunity to gain practical experience in an industry setting, thanks to a grant from the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics to create a new internship program at the UIC College of Pharmacy.

Pharmacy students

UIC, Duke University Medical Center and the University of California San Diego School of Medicine are the only academic institutions chosen by ASPET to establish a Pharmacology Industry Internships for Ph.D. Students (PIIPS) program. UIC is the only school selected to establish an eight- to 12-week summer program.

Since 2013, 29 students from the UIC College of Pharmacy have participated in industrial internships around the U.S., said Lindsey McQuade, director of research and graduate resources and project coordinator. An organized fellowship, such as the PIIPS program, to connect graduate students with pharmaceutical companies will increase this number and strengthen the partnerships with those companies, she said.

“Because over one-third of our students (36 percent) who graduate with a doctoral degree seek employment in industry, and 50 percent of students who performed internships during their degree are currently employed by pharmaceutical companies, the networking opportunities afforded by internships, along with the training in transferrable skills such as communication, management, operations and decision making, make the PIIPS fellowship an invaluable resource for the college and its trainees,” McQuade said.

Joanna Burdette, associate professor of medicinal chemistry and pharmacognosy and associate dean for research and graduate education, will serve as program director.

Pharmacology doctoral programs have a long and honored history of training scientists who enter non-academic careers, including the biotechnology/pharmaceutical industries and regulatory agencies, according to ASPET. Students increasingly embrace the view that their scholarship can have a positive impact on people’s lives.

This “culture of impact” has led to a new generation of students who are academic entrepreneurs, and who need both academic and industry mentors to succeed. Short-term internships in pharma/biotech during training have always been attractive to students interested in these careers. The attraction has only increased in recent years, as full-time academic positions have become more difficult to obtain, the organization said.

Each of the three UIC students selected for the PIIPS program will receive $7,000 ($5,000 from ASPET, $2,000 from the college) over the course of the internship. UIC is currently in discussions with several pharmaceutical companies that may wish to partner, McQuade said.

Pharmacy Dean Jerry Bauman said the college’s goal is to provide the best possible education to its students, both inside and outside the classroom. Part of its mission is to be a global leader in improving human health and benefiting society through pharmaceutical education, research, service, and entrepreneurial activity, he said.

“The PIIPS program will enhance our students’ experience and professional opportunities in the marketplace,” Bauman said. “This opportunity, along with our expert and successful faculty, will be another attractive feature in recruiting talented students to our graduate programs. We’re extremely excited to be one of only three institutions selected nationwide.”

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