Nuria van den Meerendonk, Bachelor's student

Photo of student Nuria

Why I chose CPS

I knew I wanted work in healthcare and also become a scientist, I didn’t think combining both was possible during a Bachelor's programme until I discovered CPS. The first-year curriculum is truly very interesting, the subjects are quite diverse making the courses very enjoyable. One of the important factors in making my decision was the language of instruction. Personally, CPS gave me the opportunity to return to the Netherlands after living in France for several years without shutting the door on a career in France, as English is the language of the field all over the world. Having never followed a full course in English, it can seem intimidating at first, but I have found the environment at CPS to be very supportive. When you’re struggling to find your words, many can relate and are therefore very understanding, and the others are ready to help. After only one year, I feel very comfortable using English for every situation.

How I’ve been enjoying it

I often hear from friends in other courses that the first few blocks are quite uninteresting because they are packed with theoretical knowledge, that they can’t put in context yet. Nothing is less true for CPS, from the first course theory is accompanied by projects that simulate real world problems. That is not the only way CPS prepares us beyond our study ; we are not only learning textbook knowledge but also how to communicate within the scientific community by making posters, presentations, articles and reviews just like the ones you find in scientific magazines.

Besides, with the course being very interactive, I’ve got to familiarise myself with each of the peers in my class and made some great friends during the workgroups.

Kyra Fortuin, Bachelor's alumna and professional hockey player

Why CPS?

“The CPS curriculum contains such a wide variety of courses in the field of pharmaceutical research. Obviously, there were some courses which were less appealing than others, but overall, I have immensely enjoyed my time as a CPS student. I love the hands-on approach that most courses had. The courses really encouraged us as students to immediately apply the knowledge we gained during the course in the group project which had to be delivered. I really like that CPS is such a small study with a lot of group work. This created the feeling of a sort of CPS family, as everyone was so familiar with each other.

Challenging projects combined with professional hockey career

You could make your time as CPS student as challenging as you would like it to be - students had their A-game on for everything - by conducting extended research or extra honours projects. I think I have tried to deliver my best performance for everything that I have done during my CPS studies. In combination with my professional hockey career, it sometimes was ambitious to get everything done in time and stay fully energized. But most importantly it gave me a lot of satisfaction and pride. I am truly proud of my performances and delivered projects and it only confirmed my passion for pharmaceutical sciences. My next step will be the Drug Innovation master, for which I am 100% sure that my CPS background will help me tremendously.

Khaled Essa, Master's student 'International Master in Innovative Medicine'

Why CPS?

Being a student in CPS taught me many things. I learned how to work with students and researchers from different backgrounds and cultures. CPS also taught me to be a fast learner, when I am faced with a research question I can quickly find a method to investigate it and learn the background about it quickly even If I am not very experienced in the subject. Doing the research internship in the final year of CPS enhanced my theoretical and practical knowledge in scientific and pharmaceutical research which is something difficult to find in a bachelor degree. All the previous aspects I mentioned prepared me very well for my master's degree and gave me a head start at the beginning of my master studies.

Future plans

I am currently finishing the first research project of my master program in the drug design group at the University of Groningen. I am working on synthesizing and developing novel small molecule drugs targeting different diseases such as cancer and Parkinson's. In September 2019, I will begin my second master research project in the pharmaceutical industry at Bayer in Germany. Furthermore, I am planning to start a Ph.D. in the field of drug design and discovery as soon as I graduate from my master studies. I am excited about what the future holds for my research career."

Caitlin Jie, towards a PhD in radiopharmaceuticals at ETH Zürich

Why CPS?

"After CPS, I continued my studies by doing the Master ‘Drug Discovery and Development’ at Imperial College London, United Kingdom. Moving to a foreign country and start a new study may have been a bit overwhelming at first, yet I felt confident enough because CPS gave me sufficient (practical) knowledge. CPS has showed me a lot of different aspects within the drug pipeline; providing both theoretical knowledge but also practical experience. This has helped me a lot to decide what kind of research I really enjoy and in what field I would like to pursue further in my career. Additionally, the international community within CPS also made it easier to transition from CPS in the Netherlands to my Master in London, since I was already used to talking, writing, and reading everything in English. Furthermore, I really appreciated that CPS gave me the opportunity to gain some ‘real’ research experience by doing a research project within the Utrecht Institute for Pharmaceutical Sciences (UIPS). Even though it was only for a few months, it made me a lot more confident in the lab during my Master thesis and helped me to become a more independent researcher.

Future plans

After completing my Master at Imperial, I was sure that I wanted to continue my career within research so a PhD seemed like a logical next step. Because of my experience abroad in London, I was not limiting myself to return back to the Netherlands and do my PhD there. Therefore, the options of potential PhDs positions broadened a lot. It was important for me to find a PhD position that allows me to continue to build on techniques I’ve learned before, but also offer me plenty of opportunities to learn something completely new. In the end, I applied for a PhD in Switzerland at ETH Zürich and was fortunate enough to get an offer." 

Joep Titulaer, PhD Student at Uppsala University (Sweden)

Why CPS?

"During my time as a CPS student, I was able to learn a lot and gain valuable practical experience that prepared me optimally for my current job, as they allowed me to design and perform experiments properly. In addition to this, as a CPS student I was working together with many different people from different backgrounds and different countries. Since I am working together with people from all over the world now, it was very helpful to already experience this during my Bachelor.

Better future

Currently I am living and working in Sweden, I am a PhD student at Uppsala University working in close collaboration with Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm. Here, I am investigating the potential of novel drugs and new drug combinations for the treatment of schizophrenia. I am using behavioral assays as well as biochemical techniques to investigate how these drugs affect behavior as well as neurotransmitter levels in the brain. I hope that my research will contribute to finding more effective drugs that have fewer side effects than the drugs that are currently available for the treatment of schizophrenia."

Robin Mulders, Business Consultant

How I got started in my current career

"I work as a business consultant at Novius Consulting Group, an organisation that helps companies with complex business transformations. We do that by planning change projects, monitoring the relationships between the various business units, and by organising the operational processes. I can imagine you might be thinking: what does that have to do with the College of Pharmaceutical Sciences (CPS)? What is the link to the pharmaceutical sciences, or the development of medications?

To me, there’s a clear connection between the two, because CPS shaped how I think about problems. Those thought processes are not only useful in the field of science, but perhaps even more so in the outside world. I also used the way of thinking I learned at CPS even before I started working, when I did my Master’s in Science and Business Management. That’s a Master’s programme for students with an academic background who are interested in pursuing a career in business. After a number of research projects and an internship at Kraft Heinz, the company that makes Heinz Ketchup, I started in my current job.

How CPS prepared me for my current career

Due to CPS, I developed an investigative and problem-oriented way of thinking. For me, CPS is based on three fundamental questions:

  • How does the human body work? (desired situation)
  • What goes wrong when the body is sick? (current situation)
  • How do we move from the sickness to a healthy condition? (plan of action)

I use that thought process on a daily basis in my work as a business consultant, because it also involves finding the answers to three similar questions:

  • How do we want the organisation to work? (desired situation)
  • How does the organisation work at the moment? (current situation)
  • How do we move from the current situation to the desired situation? (plan of action)

That investigative thought process is ideally suited to the ambiguous nature of the life of a consultant: when a project starts, you often don’t even know what the assignment will be. Without any prior knowledge, you have to immerse yourself in the problem in order to arrive at the desired solution as quickly as possible. That’s a scenario that a lot of CPS students and alumni will probably recognise in the many group projects during the Bachelor’s phase. You start by learning all you can about a disease you might never have heard of before, and then you have just a few weeks to present a concrete idea or product. Approaching the problem step-by-step brings you closer to the core of the problem, without necessarily having to know all of the facts first. It’s not only a fun approach, but it also offers plenty of room for creativity!

Thanks to CPS, science is still one of my hobbies. I try to keep up with the latest developments in the field of neuroscience, and I take the time to keep others up to date as well, even during my holidays." 

Cynthia Siebrand, honours alumna 2017

“Starting the honours programme was a very deliberate choice for me: it seemed to be a great opportunity to spend some time on my broad scientific interest due to the interdisciplinary programme within the Science Honours Academy (SHA), while finding more depth in the pharmaceutical sciences.”

“There are quite some options offered in the interdisciplinary part of the programme. However, the way you fill in your honours programme is completely up to you. Possibilities amongst others are attending symposia organised by students on a broad range of subjects (e.g. the Future Food symposium on how to culture meat in petri dishes) and participating in committees (e.g. the symposium committee). Also going on the yearly study trip is part of the SHA. After joining the trip to Copenhagen I am considering returning for an internship at the University of Copenhagen. Furthermore, I’ve been part of the interdisciplinary project committee, where my committee and I have sparked interest in some students to participate in several projects. I found this to be a very informative experience, as it was my first experience in a committee.”

“During the pharmaceutical part of the programme the options are even more endless: you are expected to come up with a project yourself (within the pharmaceutical spectrum), make a group with other CPS/Pharmacy students and find a supervisor. This is quite a challenge, but further on in your scientific career you will have to write your own project proposal as well. I worked on two projects. For the first one a small group of students and I researched literature on flavonoids to obtain a better insight, with some interesting conclusions. Furthermore, I worked on a website with useful information for current CPS student, with topics like student experiences abroad and elective courses.”

“Through the CPS honours programme I was able to broaden as well as deepen my knowledge and interests. I found this both a huge plus! Furthermore, I have been able to acquire multiple soft skills for example my work in committees and I was able to work together with students from many different fields you wouldn’t normally work with. Additionally the honours programme stands out on your CV and helped me get into my current Master’s programme Drug Innovation. It has been hard work at times, but combining CPS with the honours programme is very doable. I found it a very pleasant experience and would certainly recommend it to all new CPS students!”