Student profiles - 2020 cohort 

Emily Atkinson

Emily Atkinson 

University College London (UCL)

Research:

My first academic research project focuses on using immunomodulatory encapsulation systems for neural delivery of dopaminergic neurons in Parkinson’s disease, under the supervision of Professor James Phillips, Dr Victoria Roberton and Despoina Eleftheriadou.

Experience:

In 2020, I graduated with a first-class degree in Chemistry with Medicinal Chemistry (MChem) from Newcastle University. My masters research project involved working towards point-to-helical chirality transfer for the synthesis of chiral BODIPY dyes, under the supervision of Dr Michael Hall.

As part of my degree, I spent a year working within the formulation department at CPI. In this role, I gained experience in a breadth of areas including medicine, food and agricultural formulations. I specifically worked on the development of an efficacious oral solid dosage formulation for a drug that is currently administered intravenously (IV) and investigated methods to modify the aeration properties (de-dusting) of an agrochemical bulk powder, to reduce dust generation during large scale powder transfer.

Furthermore, I spent the summer of 2019 working at NewChem Technologies Ltd, under the supervision of Professor Bernard Golding. Here, I was working on the scale-up and development of synthetic routes towards cannabidiol metabolites, including 7-hydroxycannabidiol and 7-carboxycannabidiol.

 
 
Aswathy

Aswathy Balakrishnan

University College Dublin (UCD)

I am pursuing my PhD in Chemical and Bioprocess Engineering with the SSPC-CDT programme at University College Dublin (UCD) and National Institute for Bioprocess Research and Training (NIBRT) in Ireland.

Research:

My research revolves around solid state Hydrogen Deuterium Exchange Mass Spectrometry (ssHDX-MS). My project aims to use mechanistic modelling to improve stability and contribute towards the rational design of biopharmaceutical drug formulations. I look forward to the coming years, learning and interacting with my supervisors and colleagues at CDT, UCD and NIBRT!

Experience:

I have a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from Vellore Institute of Technology, India, following which I came to Ireland to do my master’s degree in Biopharmaceutical Engineering at UCD.

My master’s thesis involved the design of a manufacturing process for the production of a Prevnar 13 Biosimilar vaccine. This included design of the bioprocess along with PIDs, mass and energy balances, HAZOP analysis, safety and environmental assessment, facility design, as well as economic analysis, in order to determine the overall technical and economic feasibility of the proposed process.

 
 

 

johndowney_2

John Downey

University College Cork (UCC)

Research:

My current project investigates the effect of different material properties on protein/peptide adsorption behaviour and the consequent impact on protein functional behaviour and stability. I am also examining formulation design to mitigate the risk of protein adsorption to manufacturing equipment and packaging materials.

Experience:

After graduating with a BSc (Hons) in Biochemistry (2019) I completed my MSc (Research) in Chemistry (2020) from University College Cork where I investigated the crystal energy landscape of 22 sulfonamides, expanding known crystal structures of the substance class by 8. I contributed 1 new polymorph and classified all known sulfonamide crystal structures with respect to intermolecular interactions into 7 graph set groups. I also generated 3 novel cocrystals in this investigation. I was then accepted for a research internship at the INFANT Research Centre, Ireland, working on a proteomics project where I analysed the protein profile in cord blood of children with known ASD outcomes. Following which I joined the School of Pharmacy for my PhD in Pharmaceutics. 

 
 
MariaFMonteiro

Maria Ferreira Monteiro

Trinity College Dublin (TCD)

Research

Currently I am working on the conversion of poorly soluble drugs into multicomponent systems with low melting points as an approach to improve oral formulations.

Experience:

I have a Masters in Pharmaceutical Sciences from the Faculty of Pharmacy of my hometown University of Porto, in Portugal.Throughout my college years, I also did some research on powder flowability at the Department of Pharmaceutical Technology of my faculty, as well as an Erasmus research internship on microspheres in Poland, at the Department of Pharmaceutical Technology of the Medical University of Gdansk. After I graduated, I did a research internship at Trinity’s department of Pharmaceutics, where I am now doing my PhD. I really enjoy doing research and I find pharmaceutical technology fascinating! Outside of work, I like reading, baking, playing board games and RPGs, traveling and I have recently started knitting and crocheting.

 
 
Rebecca Godbeer

Rebecca Godbeer

University of Nottingham (UoN)

Research

My first mini project: Consistency in Microneedle Dosing.

Using 3DOrbiSIMs, I aim to successful identify and estimate the concentration of insulin present in skin tissue after administration of insulin via microneedle technology.

Experience:

I graduated from Nottingham in 2019 with a first-class degree in Pharmacy (MPharm). After graduation, I went on to complete my pharmacist pre-registration year at GlaxoSmithKline partnered with Lloyds pharmacy.

In my free time I like walking, playing board games and designing quizzes/activities.  

 
 
Patricija Januskaite

Patricija Januskaite

University College London (UCL)

Research:

For my first-year lab based mini project, I am working with Dr Dario Carugo on the formulation and characterisation of antibiotic loaded foams for the treatment of chronic wounds. 

Experience:

In 2018, I graduated from the University of Leicester with a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry, where my final research thesis was focused on the intramolecular fluorocyclisation of unsaturated carboxylic acids using an electrophilic fluorinating agent called Selectfluor. Following from this, I completed my master’s degree in Pharmaceutics at UCL in 2019, where I obtained a distinction whilst working on selective laser sintering (SLS) 3D printing for my final year project.

Prior to my PhD studies, I held the position of Senior Formulation Scientist at FabRx Ltd., a biotechnology spin-out company from UCL focused on the 3D printing of pharmaceuticals. My role involved formulation development, grant proposal writing and engagement with prospective clients and major regulatory bodies.  

 
 
Isobel Jobson

Isobel Jobson

University of Nottingham (UoN)

Research:

For my first training project I am using deep learning to predict the solubility of small drug-like molecules and excipients. My particular focus is investigating the best way to represent (featurise) the molecules to improve the accuracy of the model. 

Experience:

I completed my integrated Master's in Chemistry (MChem) at the University of Liverpool in 2019. As part of my degree, I carried out a research placement at a specialty chemicals company investigating the effects of the materials used in a process called complex coacervation. For my Master's project, I worked within an organic chemistry laboratory synthesising a range of secondary alpha-amide sulfoxonium ylides as milder alternative precursors to diazo compounds for the synthesis of cyclic compounds. 

After graduating, I spent nine months working for AkzoNobel within the Local Technical Support – Manufacturing Unit, testing new and reformulated products and reviewing production data for poor quality batches. 

In my spare time I enjoy cycling, running and baking.

 
 
Diba Keyhanfer

Diba Keyhanfar 

University College London (UCL)

Research:

For my first training project, I am working under the supervision of Professor Gareth Williams and Doctor Kreso Bucar on the development of paracetamol-caffeine co-crystal hydrates for the formulation of advanced painkillers with better compaction properties. 

Experience:

I graduated from UCL School of Pharmacy in 2018 with a first-class honours MPharm degree. My master’s project, supervised by Professor Kirsten Harvey, looked into the relevance of LRRK2 dependant VAMP1 protein expression changes for Rab35 vesicular trafficking and α-synuclein accumulation in Parkinson’s disease.

After graduation, I completed my pre-registration year on three different training sites with Boots and registered with the GPhC in 2019. Following this, I worked as a locum pharmacist and I still do on some weekends parallel to my PhD. 

 
 
Colm O'Reilly

Colm O’Reilly

University College London (UCL)

Research:

For my first rotational project, I am working under the supervision of Dr Mine Orlu and Dr Moe Elbadawi on rapid and automatic drug and dose verification of 3D printed orodispersible films using NIR spectroscopy and machine learning. 

Experience:

Before coming to the UK, I completed my BSc and MPharm in Pharmacy in the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and registered with the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland as a Pharmacist in 2015. I worked as a locum pharmacist in over 150 community pharmacies for two years to raise money for a MSc in Pharmaceutics in UCL School of Pharmacy.

I started the MSc in Pharmaceutics in UCL SOP in September 2017. My research project focused on developing novel enteric coating systems for reliable duodenal drug delivery. I graduated with Distinction in 2018.

I joined Intract Pharma (a spin out founded by Prof Abdul Basit of UCL SOP) in September 2018 as a research scientist focusing on formulation of oral biologics for inflammatory bowel disease. I designed and developed next generation prototypes of Intract’s flagship technologies while providing technical support for IUK Grant work.

In my spare time, I enjoy practicing karate, reading, and playing video/board games with friends.

 
 
Lewis OShaughnessy

Lewis O’Shaughnessy

University of Nottingham (UON)

Research:

My current research training project is on the development of techniques for imaging drug delivery to brain tumours. The aim is to combine the development of MRI contrast agents coupled to chemotherapeutic drugs, along with microscopy and mass spectrometry studies to better monitor the action of different therapies. 

Experience:

Before my PhD I studied a Masters in Chemistry degree at the University of Oxford, graduating in 2018. Throughout my degree, I completed a summer research project in the development of small molecules for activation of adult epicardial cells, along with a final year project on the development of novel bicyclic tetramate derivatives for tackling bacterial infections. 

 
 
Corinna Schlosser

Corinna Schlosser

University College London (UCL)

Research:

As part of the programme, I am undertaking my first training project, which explores cell-free stem cell therapies. This involves the development of exosome-loaded nanoparticles and investigation of their potential for tissue regeneration. 

Experience:

I hold a BSc in pharmaceutical sciences and graduated with a master’s in pharmacy from the University of Geneva in 2019. As part of my master’s degree I completed a 6-month research project which I conducted at UCL School of Pharmacy. The project focused on the development of antifungal nano formulations for ophthalmic application. After completing my degree, I worked as a Development Scientist and Project Manager for Nanomerics Ltd. During my time at Nanomerics I developed and characterized nanomedicine formulations and was responsible for a long-term stability study of a potential drug-product. 

 
 
Nidhi Seegobin

Nidhi Seegobin

University College London (UCL)

Research:

My first training project is aimed at validating a machine learning algorithm capable of predicting the effects of pharmaceutical excipients on the gut microbiome.

Experience:

I graduated from UCL with a first-class Master of Pharmacy degree in 2019. I undertook my Master’s research project at the University of Helsinki, where I researched the use of Surface Plasmon Resonance for the characterisation of a protein corona formation on virus nanoparticles.

During my undergraduate studies, I completed the City University Hong Kong summer research internship programme, where I worked on the development of self-healing films with antimicrobial properties.

I was also awarded a UCL life sciences research studentship during my penultimate year. This led me to investigate the intravitreal half-life of linear and branched PEG-Fab conjugates using an in-vitro model of the eye; supervised by Prof. Steve Brocchini.

Following graduation, I worked as a pre-registration pharmacist in the local community.

 
 
Graziamarina Sinatra

Graziamarina Sinatra

University of Nottingham (UON)

Research:

My current CDT rotation project focuses on multimodal imaging of drug delivery to brain tumours. The project aims to address the challenge of assessing the effectiveness of drugs while they are in the tissue sample through the development of methods for direct correlation of different imaging techniques. This can have applications in the improvement of drug design and therapeutic tracking in brain tumours, but also in other neoplasms and non-cancerous diseases. 

Experience:

Before joining the CDT, I completed my integrated master's in Chemistry (MChem) at the University of Manchester, where I graduated in 2020. My final year project involved the synthesis of conformationally responsive BODIPY fluorophores for use in determination of foldamers location in cells.

 
 
Alfredo Smart

Alfredo Smart

University of Nottingham (UON)

Research:

For my CDT rotational project, I am working under the supervision of Dr Zelzer, Dr Marlow and Dr Twycross and in collaboration with Croda on the optimisation of a small neural network that can predict the solubility of small molecules and excipients. The neural network may be of use in the early stages of development of formulations and guide excipient choice.

Experience:

Prior to joining the CDT, I completed a MPharm degree at the University of Nottingham. During my undergraduate degree, I completed a 3-month Erasmus research placement at the Karl-Franzens-Universitaet in Graz, Austria where I investigated computational docking of small ligands in several riboflavin-dependent enzymes.

 
 
Branislav Vukovic

Branislav Vukovic

University of Nottingham (UON)

Research

For my first training project at the University of Nottingham I am investigating the effect lipoprotein deficiency on the metabolic profile of paediatric and adult glioblastoma cells.

I am interested in Nano therapies particularly in recent advancements of therapeutics delivered across the blood brain barrier.

Experience:

In 2019 I completed my MPharm degree at Kings College London. I completed a 3-month master’s dissertation project at Pfizer in Kent where the project was titled ‘Rapid determination of intrinsic dissolution rate using controlled suspensions. After my academic training at Kings I worked in a mid-sized Boots pharmacy for my pre-registration year in order to become a qualified pharmacist.

 

In my personal time I enjoy cycling, Brazilian Jiu jitsu, travelling and spending quality time with friends and family.

 
 

 

Alexandra Peremezhko

Alexandra Peremezhko

University College London (UCL)

Reseach

In my first mini project I was working with Dr Alessandro Poma at Eastman Dental Institute to investigate synthetic targeting of polymersomes for development of potential novel drug delivery system in oncology.

Experience:

In 2018 I graduated from Queen Mary University, London with a degree in Biomedical Sciences. My dissertation focused on the role of epigenetics in development and treatment of acute myeloid leukaemia. Later that year I then joined MSc in Pharmaceutics at UCL SoP and over the summer I have been working on the assessment of commercially available kefir formulations to determine the relationship of the formulation components and the viability of bacteria in simulated gastrointestinal conditions.

Prior to beginning of my PhD, I performed research for Cernotas Ltd. to elucidate potential bactericidal effects of a probiotic formulation on a range of relevant pathogenic microorganisms.