New RCSI undergraduate programme trains future-focused scientists to respond to global healthcare challenges

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A new undergraduate programme in Advanced Therapeutic Technologies has been launched by RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences.

Commencing in September 2022, the programme will increase the employability of graduates by equipping them with the technical knowledge, skills and competencies required to become global leaders in healthcare innovation and technology in the biopharmaceutical and related industries.

The BSc in Advanced Therapeutic Technologies is an innovative four-year programme designed for students to develop extensive, future-focused scientific knowledge, technical skills and transversal competencies.

The programme development has been funded by a recent €7.8 million grant from the Higher Education Authority (HEA) Human Capital Initiative to the RCSI School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences, to expand the School's focus on emerging and future pharma technologies.

Applications for the programme can be made through the normal CAO process.

Dr Ben Ryan, Programme Director of the BSc in Advanced Therapeutic Technologies said: "The new BSc programme has been designed to respond to the evolving healthcare landscape and to develop science innovators fit to tackle the most pressing healthcare-related scientific challenges of our time. This programme will enhance the employability of graduates by helping them to develop the skills and competencies that have been identified as currently lacking by National and International Skills reports, but are critical to succeeding in the biopharmaceutical industry and related areas. This programme aims to train the global biopharma industry leaders of the future."

The degree course begins by giving students an introduction to the foundation principles in the fundamental sciences and laboratory skills. In Year 1, students will gain an understanding of the biological sciences and chemical principles applied to therapeutic action, as well as introductory data analytics relevant to the pharmaceutical industry. Students will also begin to explore and develop the transversal competencies essential to the professional role of the scientist.

As the course progresses, students learn about genomics and its application to precision medicine – an emerging, innovative approach that fuses the digital, biological and physical worlds to improve patient well-being and outcomes. Students will study the treatment of major diseases and develop competency in the interrogation of large data sets, which is vital in the modern day management and treatment of diseases.

A core objective of the programme is to introduce students to cutting-edge therapies and technologies and assist them in understanding the key principles involved in the treatment of diseases. They will learn about the processes involved in bringing new medicines to market, including the regulatory framework, and gain an appreciation of the complex manufacturing processes required for biological therapeutics such as vaccines. They will study advanced genetics and cell biology as well as biopharmaceutical manufacturing to understand the production of biological therapies.

Critically, the programme includes an eight-month work placement in year 3, either in Ireland or overseas, in which students learn how to apply their theoretical knowledge to practice. In the final year, students carry out a research project which prepares them for careers in healthcare innovation and medical technology within academic research or industry. The entire curriculum is delivered in a student-centric manner using the latest developments in education delivery.

The programme was developed with input from leading national and multinational bio-pharma companies as well as other enterprise partners, with expertise across a broad range of innovative healthcare technologies.

The project has been supported by the Higher Education Authority under the Human Capital Initiative, Pillar 3. Grant agreement: 17796884 'Enabling Future Pharma'. The programme benefits from the expertise of a number of industry partners: Congenica Ltd, Novartis, Microsoft, Aerogen, S3 Connected Health, Inflection Biosciences, Phion Therapeutics and Almac.

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