Madison, NJ – Lundbeck US, a pharmaceutical firm best known as the manufacturer of Abilify and Lexapro, is partnering with Drew University to provide students with internships and high-powered scientific equipment.
Drew’s science students started working at the Lundbeck campus in Secaucus a year ago, doing research in laboratories alongside professional scientists. They will continue this spring.
Megan McAleavy, a 2013 graduate, was majoring in biochemistry and molecular biology at Drew when she became an intern at Lundbeck last year. After graduation, she worked there in the summer and was hired last fall in a position she hopes will become permanent.
“I’m working with people who are really experienced and extremely smart and love what they do,” she said. “It’s just a great working environment.”
McAleavy said she works in cell culture and assay development, designing experiments and studying how cells react to different compounds; research that can be used in the creation of new medicines in the future.
She said getting an off-campus internship helped focus her future career goals. “It was great to find out the passion for research I developed at Drew translated into a professional setting,” she said. “My goal is to work in research and discovery at a pharmaceutical company.”
Stevin Zorn, executive vice president of Lundbeck Research, USA, said his company chose Drew students for internships specifically because of Drew’s neuroscience program. Lundbeck specializes in medicines to treat neurological disorders.
Zorn said the upperclassmen are doing hands-on research while being mentored by professional scientists. “They’re actually participating in the experiments and research we’re doing to discover drugs,” he explained.
Ron Doll, a fellow in the RISE Institute at Drew, agreed. “The students are doing front-line drug discovery, they’re synthesizing compounds, doing research collaboration and helping in publications,” he said. “It is a serious internship there.”
Lundbeck also has improved scientific research on the Drew campus by donating a 400 MHz Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectrometer (NMR). The superconducting magnet in a NMR spectrometer allows students to study the structure of molecules in organic compounds.
Most universities could not afford to purchase such a device and students using it are gaining skills they can use on the job, said Doll. Zorn said Lundbeck decided to donate the powerful machine to replace Drew’s outdated one rather than sell it. “We wanted to donate it where kids could benefit.”
McAleavy, 23, said the new NMR will help Drew students stay competitive with students at other universities. “It’s going to open a lot of doors for Drew students and help them analyze research that is more cutting edge than before.”
McAleavy, recommended the Lundbeck experience to other Drew students. “Lundbeck is a great place to intern because it will prepare you for research in a professional setting.”
Zorn added, “The scientists that sponsor students love having the students around. It keeps us sharp. New ideas come in and that gets us excited.”
Lundbeck US specializes in medicines that treat psychiatric and neurological diseases including: alzheimer’s disease, alcohol dependence, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, strokes and Huntington’s disease.