The Science of Medicines
5th - 7th September 2017
De Havilland Campus, University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, Herts
APS PharmSci 2017 - Chairs' reflections


Linda Hakes (Retiring APS Chair)

Although I would have loved to attend all three days of PharmSci 2017, unfortunately I had to leave on Wednesday afternoon to fly to Seoul for the FIP Congress. However, Days 1 and 2 of PharmSci were very impressive and all the sessions I attended were of high quality and generated a lot of discussion. The opening plenary lecture by Abdul Basit set exactly the right tone for the conference, describing how an understanding of physiology can improve drug delivery. The second plenary lecture, by Giovanni Pauletti also addressed the conference theme of “Pharmaceutical Science without Borders”, but this time from the angle of international cooperation and collaboration. In the short presentation sessions, I was impressed, as always, by the variety of research that is being conducted in universities and companies, and by the skill of the presenters in conveying their data and enthusiasm in 10 minutes. The future of pharmaceutical sciences is bright!

Mark McAllister (APS Chair)

After a stop-start journey on the M25 on Tuesday morning, I arrived at the conference just before lunchtime and it was good to be back in the familiar surroundings of the University of Hertfordshire. After collecting my badge and updating the conference app (so no bulky bags filled with printed material to lug around this year, all thanks to Helen Barker!!), my conference began with the AGM and Linda presented a great summary of APS activities since the previous year’s meeting. My appointment as the incoming Chair for the Academy was confirmed as were three other board appointments, Julie Cahill joining the board and both Jayne Lawrence and Helen Barker extending their terms of office for a further 3 years. The afternoon scientific programme began with a plenary talk from Professor Giovanni Pauletti who discussed the challenges and opportunities for pharmaceutical education in a world of ever increasingly complex healthcare technology. With this in mind, I opted to attend the Biologics Focus Group session ‘The rise and rise of biotherapeutics’ which provided excellent overviews of the commercial market for advanced biologics and insights into patient preferences for device design. The Black Tie dinner on Tuesday evening at Knebworth Barns was well attended and provided a great opportunity for networking and catching up with friends and colleagues, and included a very entertaining speech from Professor Donald Cairns who had been awarded an eminent fellowship of the academy.

On Wednesday, I attended the plenary lectures from Professor David Jones and Sir Michael Rawlins. In the GSK Innovative Science Award lecture, Professor Jones discussed how innovation in polymer chemistry and processing techniques had resulted in a diverse range of products which ultimately were making differences to the lives of patients and how cross-disciplinary efforts were essential in realising this goal. The lecture from Sir Michael Rawlins, Chairman of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), described how regulatory and clinical trial design innovations could fast-track medicines to patients and also touched on the complex options for regulation in a post-Brexit UK. On Wednesday afternoon, I attended the UKICRS session on ‘Crossing the disciplinary divide for improved healthcare’ which included talks on the development of a polymeric paste for the treatment of malignant glioma, exploiting biological responses with polymer therapeutics and nano-safety research (in which the concept of nanoparticles/human was proposed as a potential risk indicator for endotoxin contamination!). I’m certainly not a subject matter expert in any of these areas but the value in a broad-based conference such as PharmSci is that there is always an opportunity to broaden your knowledge across a range of diverse scientific themes, I certainly learnt a lot from the UKICRS session. Wednesday evening concluded with a bus-trip to the University of Hertfordshire Science Centre and discussions continued over drinks in the lobby and quite a few of the attendees took the opportunity to tour the new labs.

The final day of the conference passed in a bit of a blur for me, as I was busy with chairing the morning and afternoon sessions of the biopharmaceutics IMI OrBiTo presentations. In between these, I enjoyed the plenary presentations from our award winners, Dimitrios Lamprou (RPS Science Award Lecture: ‘Bridging the gap between pharmaceutics and engineering’) and Dennis Douroumis (APS Award Lecture (sponsored by AstraZeneca) - 'Some like it hot - an extrusion solution to advance drug delivery'). Both presentations reinforced the importance of cross-disciplinary connections and how innovations in other areas (e.g. 3D printing) could provide novel options for drug delivery. As I closed the final session, I reflected on my three days at the conference and I was struck by just how diverse our science base really is. I’ll remember PharmSci 2017 for not just the presentations and plenary lectures but the quality of the posters presented by our younger scientists in the exhibition hall. The organising team (led by Carol O’Connor and John Wahlich) have yet again delivered an excellent conference and on behalf of the board and all our members, I would like to say thank you to all involved!

Don’t forget PharmSci 2018 follows on from FIP World Congress 2018 Glasgow

7th September 2018 Glasgow Hilton Hotel, Glasgow