Educators, Pharmaceutical Industry Team Up to Teach Students How Medicines Are Made

(Note to Editors: Photos of Recent Field Tests of RxeSEARCH Program at Montgomery, Princeton and Newark High Schools as Well as the Summer Institute Are Available upon Request.)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007 8:00 am EDT



Public Company Information:


SKILLMAN, N.J.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Fifty-nine high school teachers from 19 New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Iowa high schools this week are preparing to teach their students how medicines are made in a groundbreaking partnership between the education and pharmaceutical sectors.

At Montgomery High School in Skillman, N.J., the teachers are participating in the RxeSEARCH Summer Institute, a week long train-the-trainer course in preparation for implementation in the 2007-2008 school year. The pilot program is designed to teach skills in science problem solving, analysis and decision making through integration of biology, chemistry, math, language arts and social studies in an applied pharmaceutical R&D curriculum and to build understanding of pharmaceutical careers.

“This novel program breaks down barriers between subject areas at the high school level and allows students to explore and solve realistic problems in science, using an inquiry-based approach,” said Sally Goetz Shuler, Executive Director, National Science Resources Center (NSRC), an affiliate science education center of excellence of the Smithsonian Institution and the National Academy of Sciences. “It gives students a glimpse of how the science learned in school is applied in science-based industry, and it helps them get ready for working life.”

Created by Bristol-Myers Squibb in collaboration with seven New Jersey and New York high schools, with key leadership by Montgomery and Newark school districts, the RxeSEARCH program explains the pharmaceutical process. It takes students from the spark of an idea for a new medicine through early discovery in the labs to clinical trials and eventually to delivery of life-saving and enhancing medicines to patients.

“This program will teach students about the complex and challenging pharmaceutical research and development process and engage them in simulated but realistic R&D scenarios. It will expose future scientists, mathematicians and others to career opportunities and will demystify the process that brings drugs to patients,” said Francis Cuss, senior vice president, Discovery and Exploratory Clinical Research at Bristol-Myers Squibb. “We are pleased to have worked with our many educational and pharmaceutical partners in creating this program.”

Led by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association (PhRMA), with the assistance from the Museum of Contemporary Science in Trenton, NJ, the program is being sponsored by Johnson & Johnson, Schering-Plough, Wyeth, GlaxoSmithKline and Bristol-Myers Squibb as well as the Healthcare Institute of NJ in partnership with the six high schools in the Newark School District, Montgomery, Princeton, New Brunswick, Hopewell Valley, West Windsor-Plainsboro high schools, and Tottenville High School in Staten Island, N.Y. In addition, three teachers working in the Philadelphia School District through the Teach for America program are participating, as are science education teachers representing seven Iowa high schools.

"RxeSEARCH is the result a strong public/private partnership working to address the needs of the pharmaceutical industry to compete in today's global market,” said Wesley Methany, Senior VP, Alliances, Affordability and Access for PhRMA & Chair of the RxeSEARCH Steering Committee. "It prepares young adults with a solid understanding of the sciences, the R&D process and the industry as a whole, so they can become the leaders of tomorrow. RxeSEARCH will certainly make a significant impact in the world of medicine."

The NSRC developed the 11-lesson curriculum, working with teachers from Montgomery and Newark High Schools and scientists and business people at Bristol-Myers Squibb. This spring and summer, Newark, Montgomery and Princeton high schools field-tested the two-week course. Moving forward it will be monitored and evaluated by the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study.

Eleven lessons take the student through the R&D process. Lesson 1, Diseases and Their Impact, focuses on the nature and causes of disease, with a fictitious storyline about an infectious disease outbreak at a high school as the backbone for the course. Lesson 2, Targets and Magic Bullets, covers choosing a biological target for pharmaceutical intervention. Lesson 3, Screening for Solutions, focuses on screening chemicals to determine interaction with a biological target, and Lesson 4, The Power of Molecules, covers building molecules and scaling up. Lesson 5, Paper Chromatography for Chemical Separation, teaches that separation of chemical elements is a fundamental process used at all levels of R&D. Lesson 6, Selecting the Best Molecule for Development, shows how a long list of chemical leads is whittled down to the safest and most effective possible compounds. Lesson 7, Investigational New Drug Application Process – Part 1, covers the process for seeking regulatory approval for human testing and Phase 1 clinical trials; Lesson 8, Phase 2 clinical trials; Lesson 9, Phase 3 clinical trials and the new drug application (NDA) process for regulatory approval; Lesson 10, Putting It All Together, focuses on commercialization, and Lesson 11, Marketing: Where Business and Science Overlap, explains how a medicine is made broadly available to patients.

Participating Schools in RxeSEARCH Initiative

Montgomery High School

Hopewell Valley Central High School

Biotechnology High School, Monmouth County Voc. School District

New Brunswick HS

Tottenville HS, New York City School District

Princeton HS

West Windsor-Plainsboro North HS

Leominster, MA, HS

Humboldt, IO, HS

Germantown, PA, HS

Olney, PA, HS

Overbrook, PA, HS

Newark School District:

Arts HS

East Side HS

Malcolm X Shabazz HS

West Side HS

Weequahic HS

University of the Humanities HS

CONTACT: Becky Taylor, Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, +1-609-252-4476, or cell, +1-609-240-5134,; Cathy Tramontana, Museum of Contemporary Science, +1-609-396-2401, or cell, +1-609-532-6658,

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