On March 2, 2017, the WIB-San Francisco Bay Area YWIB group took a drug development workshop, specially designed for middle and high school students, to a Citizen School of California after school campus in East San Jose. This was the first time Young Women In Bio took the workshop to a school or after school campus. Young Women In Bio thanks all the workshop volunteers - 25 of them who committed their time and worked with so much energy and enthusiasm to make this unique event happen. We were fortunate to have two “advocate” sponsors for the event, GRAIL Bio and Global Blood Therapeutics. Both of their financial and GRAIL’s volunteer support was critical in making this event such a success.
The objective of the workshop was to introduce girls to what it takes to make a medicine, the concepts of “benefits” and “risks” in medicine, and the careers and scientific disciplines involved in biopharma business. Twenty six middle school girls participated in the workshop. Girls were divided into four groups. Two to three life science professionals were assigned to each group, and sat with the girls as “mentor volunteers,” engaging the girls in conversations and activities.
Through a simple 12-piece puzzle activity of matching pictures with words, girls were introduced to the full spectrum of drug development road map from start-up to product launch.
This was followed by a problem-solving exercise where they as “doctors” were asked to evaluate two hypothetical cancer drugs - a cytotoxic and a molecularly targeted drug - against a dashboard of half a dozen product attributes including Safety, Efficacy, Ease of Administration, and Storage and Shipping, and recommend one of the drugs for prescription to cancer patients.
Girls learned about these two drugs at specific demo stations that volunteers had organized. With exciting hands-on science based activities using day-to-day play materials, videos, and props, the girls learned about differences in the biology of the cytotoxic and molecularly targeted drugs, went through the diverse concepts involved in formulating those drugs, safety vs. efficacy outcomes in clinical trials, and the importance of quality control in ensuring the manufacturing process produces the same medicine each time.
The girls worked as groups to analyze the product profile of the two drugs, and made recommendations to a large group of volunteers who asked each group questions.
It was very satisfying to see the girls present their ideas using flip charts, and each team member participated in her group’s presentation by sharing one or two points. There was plenty of popcorn to stimulate their discussions, and we ended the event with the usual pizza party.
The following testimonials from some of the girls summarize it all:
"I learned about a lot of things I did not know about before. I learned about medicine, which is something I am interested in exploring more." - Savanna A. "I liked how they were super nice and that we got to learn new things about medicine. It seems interesting, especially how it is researched using mice in experiments. I really love this work and what they do." - Emily M.
"I really liked learning about the process to develop medicine and figuring out how long it takes to expire and even create." - Yulie Z.
"I loved how they made the effort to help us better understand the field and feel supported in that process." - Yesenia C.
"It was very interactive, and it made me realize I had so many options open to me. I feel more informed now." - Katie L.
"I really loved the food and how interactive the activities were throughout the event." - Jaylin T.
The WIB-San Francisco YWIB thanks the Citizen School of California leadership and staff for their ongoing help and cooperation, and the girls for their engaging participation and feedback.
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