Synapse Connect UK 2017 creates international network relations and opportunities for Danish Life Science students – Københavns Universitet

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12. juni 2017

Synapse Connect UK 2017 creates international network relations and opportunities for Danish Life Science students

The annual April seminar, Synapse Connect UK, has once again opened the eyes of 40 ambitious Life Science MSc, PhD, and recently graduated students to the possibilities outside of academia, inspiring them to consider an out-of-the-box, interdisciplinary and global perspective when shaping their future career.

By Sasha Tolstoy, MSc Molecular Biomedicine at UCPH

Group picture at EMBL-EBI European Bioinformatics Institute

Organized by the non-profit student organization Synapse – Life Science Connect [Synapse], Synapse Connect UK [SCUK] is a one-week interdisciplinary seminar rich in the topics of bioentrepreneurship, drug development and capital investment. Moreover, it is a professional academic and networking seminar focused on creating connections between top students in the Medicon Valley area in Denmark and the most important Life Science clusters in the UK, namely Cambridge and London.

This year’s seminar began in Cambridge with an introduction to the British Life Science industry by the networking membership organization One Nucleus. This was followed by a visit to MedImmune, the global research and development arm of AstraZeneca, and a networking dinner with local University of Cambridge students from the distinguished graduate program, Master of Bioscience Enterprise.

Academic visits to multiple inspiring institutes such as the Babraham Research Campus, Sanger Institute and EMBL-EBI were part of this year’s program, each joined by representatives from highly respected biotech companies such as F-Star, Biogen, GSK, and Lonza. These leading research facilities and industry professionals updated participants and Synapse representatives on cutting edge knowledge in antibody discovery, transgenic mice, early-stage bioscience enterprise, commercialization, and tools for facilitating local, regional and international collaborations.

Each institute discussed the consideration of modern ways to share scientific data among researchers and across country borders – a scientific obstacle of high value to a scientist aiming at creating an internationally acclaimed career in Denmark.

Group photo in London.

At Imperial College London, enthusiasm filled the room as SCUK participants met with students working in the Science Innovation Union – a UK student initiative resembling Synapse in Denmark – during their panel debate on the Future of Data Mining, featuring GSK, Biogen and Desktop Genetics.

By Thursday evening, participants had the pleasure of meeting the former competing iGEM team for Imperial College London, as well as several successful start-up companies, e.g. Quit Geniuos, BentoLab and CustoMem. These companies shared their journeys and the lessons learned of creating their own business, including the rough beginning of developing a valid product and meeting the right investors at the right time.

This valuable knowledge was appreciated by both students considering the idea of their own start-up, as well as by students planning to enter well-established enterprises, as some of challenges of medical product and drug development can be similar despite differences in scale and scope.

The winning team of the Friday case competition at the Wellcome Trust pitching their idea of a new CRISPR-Cas9 usage. From left, Arkan Vasie, Ida Larsen, Haja Radic, Julia Peics and Yunfeng Liu.

The SCUK seminar concluded with a case competition at the Wellcome Trust – a biomedical research charity with an endowment of more than £20.9 billion. By using different scientific technologies and sharing their vision to cure the world of various life-threatening diseases, the case competition teams pitched their theoretical products in front of professional investors with the hope of becoming their next “project”.

After the winning team was announced, all participants agreed on the important lesson once spoken by Sir Winston Churchill: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts”.


One of my (professional) life changing experiences.”
- Haja Dominike Radic, MSc Biotechnology, UCPH

Great trip!!! I learned a lot about innovation, the different aspects that you can take on life science in the industry, as well as the opportunities for a potential career in the U.K.
- Christian K. Thygesen, MSc Bioinformatics and Systems Biology, DTU

SCUK17 provided me with valuable insigt into alternative career opportunities, different routes to take after graduating, and exciting scientific topics. In addition, I got to meet interesting people, make a bunch of friends and connections, and - most important of all - to take a selfie next to Big Ben.”
- Cecilie Knudsen, MSc Molecular Biomedicine, UCPH