From 3 to 7 December 2018 the Joint Prague-Weizmann Winter School on Drug Discovery was held at the Weizmann Institute of Science (WIS) in Rehovot, Israel. The event, the fifth in a series of annual summer school programs organized by the University of Chemistry and Technology Prague (UCT Prague) and the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the Czech Academy of Sciences (IOCB Prague), was attended by scientists and experts from all over the world, including students, postdoctoral researchers, and lecturers from the Czech Republic.
The project is primarily intended for PhD students and postdocs, who attend lectures by experts from research organizations and pharmaceutical companies on various subjects relating to drug development, from basic research and preclinical and clinical development to commercialization and marketing. Its comprehensive concept caught the interest of representatives from the Weizmann Institute of Science, who expressed a desire to help organize and host this year’s winter event.
Irit Sagi, dean of Feinberg Graduate School, the academic arm of the WIS, explains why the institute decided to become involved in the winter school project: “The decision to join the Prague summer school is the fruit of an ongoing scientific collaboration with Prague institutes which include student and post doc exchange programs. At the Weizmann we appreciate the opportunity as well as the value of internationalizing the scientific environment of our scientists. As we realize that our research activities in the field of medicinal chemistry and drug discovery could benefit from such interactions we chose to team-up with world experts in our region which are based in IOCB, UCT and Charles University. Following the success of the joint Prague-WIS winter school we intend to continue this school next year in Prague.”
“I’m very grateful that, beginning this year, the Weizmann Institute of Science, one of the most prestigious biological sciences research institutions in the world, is participating in the project. It shows that we’ve succeeded, together with the UCT, in establishing a meaningful and valuable endeavor, and this is also evident in the constantly growing interest on the part of students and speakers from academic institutions and commercial entities,” says Martin Fusek, deputy director of IOCB Prague and head of its tech-transfer company IOCB Tech.
The 5th annual edition of the school enjoyed record attendance, with more than 120 scientists and students from all over the world participating, among whom 25 were from the Czech Republic. They attended lectures by representatives of important institutions and pharmaceutical companies such as Merck, Astra Zeneca, Pfizer, and the Swiss company Roche.
The next edition will be held in Prague in the summer of 2019, again as a joint project of the UCT, IOCB Prague, and the WIS. “It’s a pleasure for me to watch as each year our project gains an ever-greater international dimension. It lets students learn not only from the invited experts but also from one another,” says Radek Cibulka, the main organizer of the school for the UCT and chairman of the UCT’s academic senate. “Discussions between students from various corners of the world primarily take place during the poster session, which is organized each year with a considerable degree of prestige,” adds Cibulka.
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