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Wits scientists opens up the world of pharmaceutical research at National Science Week

- Wits University

Wits Advanced Drug Delivery Platform use the national science fair to interact with future generation of scientists, healthcare professionals, and innovators.

WDDP at NSW2023 with a group of students

The Wits Advanced Drug Delivery Platform WADDP took the opportunity to engage with learners to show them the exciting possibilities in the field of drug delivery at the national science week this year. The science week, which was held from 31 July to 4 August 2023 was hosted at the Mondi Science, Career Guidance and FET Skils centre in Mpumalanga, and was aimed at providing learners the opportunity to learn more about science in a bid to create a scientifically literate and critically engaged society.

The exhibition provided a unique opportunity for the researchers to engage with students, who represent the future generation of scientists, healthcare professionals, and innovators. By explaining the importance of nanomedicine, advanced drug delivery and tissue engineering in modern medicine, the researchers highlighted how their work contributes to optimising treatment regimens and reducing side effects for patients.

Drawing inspiration from DSI's Science Engagement Strategy goals, the WADDP researchers designed interactive displays that transcended the confines of traditional classrooms, hands-on activity where students were encouraged to experimenting with materials to solve challenges allowed them to experience the complexities that pharmaceutical scientists face in their research. It offered a glimpse into the critical thinking and creative problem-solving aspect of the field and fostered an interest in pursuing careers in pharmaceutical science and related disciplines.

“The National Science Week provided an exceptional platform for these motivated high school students to immerse themselves in the world of higher education and scientific exploration,” says Sameera Khatib from School of Therapeutic Sciences, Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology.

“Witnessing their eagerness to learn, ask probing questions, and actively participate in discussions with us and other presenters has reinforced our belief in the potential of the next generation.”

The WADDP is a world leading research entity established in 2007. It focuses on researching and producing 21st century patient-centric pharmaceutical product innovations as neat solutions for the most challenging unmet therapeutic needs globally. The WADDP is a formally recognised research enity at Wits University and is a recognised African Network for Drugs and Diagnostics Innovation (ANDI) Center of Excellence in Nanomedicine and Advanced Drug Delivery. 

“I am super proud of what the WADDP team has achieved at this event,” says Professor Yahya Choonara, Director of the Wits Advanced Drug Delivery Platform (WADDP) research unit.

“It’s the kind of passion nurtured in the labs that transcends into public spaces to ensure that the disruptive scientific innovations produced respond to the needs of humankind. In providing the youth with access to scientific minds and spaces it makes science ‘’fashionable’’ and helps promote improved collaboration among stakeholders toward us achieving the ‘science relevant’ UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a country.” 

Dr Gillian D. Mahumane, School of Therapeutic Sciences, Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, who coordinated the WADDP visit to National Science Week 2023, says engagements such as the WADDP’s involvement in National Science week offer a platform to demystify complex concepts, inspire the youth, and emphasise the role of pharmaceutical research in addressing healthcare challenges through robust science communication.

“Science communication is one of the many ways in which WADDP works to bridge the science-society divide, fostering mutual understanding, driving innovation, and propelling society toward a healthier and more knowledgeable future. It's like a perfectly balanced chemical equation: when the public engages, curiosity reacts, and understanding precipitates."