Five Anderson University biology and chemistry students recently gained hands-on experience and learned the latest technological developments in pharmaceutical research at the annual Bio-analytical Outreach Conference. The conference was hosted by Eli Lilly and Company, one of the largest pharmaceutical research and production organizations in the world and headquartered in Indianapolis.
Each year, around 60 collegiate science and biology majors from around the state of Indiana are invited to the Lilly Technology Center, which houses many of the manufacturing and distribution offices for the pharmaceutical company. Students receive tours of the facilities and explore the labs where biologists, chemists, and biochemists do most of their research. This year, representatives also educated the students on bioassays, which are experiments conducted on living organisms to test the effects of a drug on responsive matter. The hands-on experience came when attendees helped run several drug tests in the lab.
[Illustration: This image depicts some of the information students learned during the conference.]
Professor of Chemistry Dr. Scott Carr brought the five AU juniors and seniors to the conference.
“The students appreciated seeing a more realistic view of what it means to be a research chemist, as well as the steps involved in becoming one,” said Carr. “They learned how important it is to be flexible, to be willing to learn new technologies, and to work in teams at this annual event. Seeing pieces of million dollar research instrumentation also left an impression.”
Conference leaders introduced the students to two made-up drugs that they presented as something they want to develop, analyze, quantify, or isolate. Next, they demonstrated some techniques that assisted students in the drug development process. The conference gave students a unique opportunity to work in pharmaceutical manufacturing.
Ashley Karr is a junior biology major. Karr was one of the AU students invited to attend the conference. Although Karr felt inspired by the work at Eli Lilly, she also learned how much time and effort it takes to manufacture some of the life-saving drugs many rely on.
“I learned a lot about the newest advances in medical technology and had the opportunity to see cutting-edge research,” said Karr. “It was amazing to see thousands of instruments that could easily cost millions of dollars each. You really don’t want to break anything in their labs.”
Karr was also impressed by the chemists’ personalities and senses of humor.
“I specifically remember a little stuffed Yoda sitting on top of a million-dollar nuclear magnetic resonance instrument. It cheers up these brilliant analytical chemists when they are having a bad day,” said Karr.
At the end of the conference, students had the opportunity to ask questions to a panel of industrial chemists. These interactions included in-depth information about the hiring policy at Eli Lilly and how one can break into the pharmaceutical industry.
— Jonathon Hosea is a senior from New Castle, Ind., majoring in communication arts and minoring in peace and conflict transformation. Hosea is an associate with Fifth Street Communications®, writing on behalf of the Anderson University Office of University Communications.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, music, nursing, and theology.