As it is the summer following my year abroad in China, I’ve decided to spend my summer working in a lab at Shanghai Jiao Tong University in their School of Pharmacy. I’ve finally decided to major in Chemistry for my Natural Sciences degree, and wanted to experience research as a medicinal chemist.

This summer I will be working on a project synthesising new drugs for Alzheimer’s Disease. So far, I have spent two weeks familiarising myself with the lab and synthesising an important intermediate compound for later use. Starting next week, I will assist one of the researchers with the synthesis of a totally new molecule which could be an exciting new drug. They are facing a few challenges with the synthesis at the moment, so I am looking forward to spending this summer testing several different possible methods.

It has being very exciting being back in a laboratory again and experiencing real research rather than the standard experiments students do at university. The team is very international, with top professors and students from around the world working together on the project. Although the pace of work in China is somewhat more relaxed than in the UK, there is still a very focussed atmosphere with everyone striving to make progress. As an intern, I am able to get directly involved in their research which is a great opportunity to improve my Chemistry skills and potentially co-author a scientific paper if we make any exciting breakthroughs this summer!

This internship is part of the SJTU Summer Research Internship program, an opportunity for international students to experience research for 8-12 weeks in one of their laboratories. I found out about the program through their website. The application process was relatively simple, I had to contact a professor I was interested in working with, send him my CV and information on previous research experience, come up with a project plan with him, then submit all the application documents through the SJTU website.

There are no fees for participating in the program (unalike some other international internships), and I was one of the 50% of participants awarded a scholarship covering basic living costs. Unfortunately I probably won’t be making any money overall this summer, but for the opportunity to experience international research at a top university in China it is definitely worth it for me.

If you are interested in taking part in this program in the future, plan to start the process of contacting a professor and coming up with plans around January-February, with the final deadline to submit all the application materials online being in April. Full details can be found on their website.


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