COVID may have thwarted most hands on teaching - so Randox threw open their labs

GLOBAL diagnostics company Randox Laboratories is hosting a Student Training Academy this summer for Ulster University Biomedical Science students who have been unable to complete practical laboratory classes due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Held at the company’s headquarters, the Randox Science Park in Antrim, each rotation of the Biomedical Science Student Training Academy for Key Laboratory skills takes place over two weeks to cover key laboratory techniques and technologies, as well as industry standard practices and employability skills.

Modules range from Chromatography and Spectrophotometers to Robotics, PPE Awareness and PCR. It also focuses on the testing method currently employed by Randox’s team of COVID-19 scientists to detect the virus for the UK’s National Testing Programme.

Elizabeth Ferguson, Randox Training Specialist, said there was no substitute for hands on experience.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a massive impact on all of us, and particularly on Biomedical Science Students who during the 2020/21 academic year were unable to experience the lab practicals they would usually be afforded during their studies at Ulster University.

“We have enjoyed a long-standing and successful partnership with Ulster University for many years, including but not limited to our university-wide sports sponsorship and the recently announced Randox Professor of Medicine post, and are delighted that our collaboration with this renowned university has grown further in the form of this Randox Student Academy.

“We are proud to be able to offer Ulster University students the chance to gain practical lab experience in a world-leading life sciences company and pleased that our first group of students so thoroughly enjoyed and benefited from the programme.”

Dr. Valerie Hinch, Course Director for the BSc Hons Biomedical Science programmes at Ulster University welcomed the move.

“The School of Biomedical Sciences is delighted to partner with Randox Laboratories to provide this important learning experience for our students. The work experience and practical skills they have gained will be invaluable to them as they continue their studies and target a career in the Life Science industry.

“This training will help us to inspire a new generation of scientists who can make a real impact on healthcare in our society, with benefits for researchers, clinicians and patients alike.”

Biomedical Science Student Aimee Stitt, who won the Randox Training Academy ‘Stellar Student’ Award, said she was delighted to get into the lab.

“I’ve always had such a keen interest in science, and so I was really excited for the practical and hands-on elements of my first year of studies of Biomedical Science at Ulster University’s Coleraine campus – but COVID had other ideas!

“As I hadn’t been in a lab for so long I wasn’t really sure what to expect and had forgotten in a way how interesting it is, but the experience of the Randox Student Training Academy exceeded all my expectations and re-ignited my passion for science.

“I’m so grateful to the team at Randox for giving us the opportunity to not only gain key lab skills, but also to meet real-life scientists and to learn from them and ask them for advice about what it’s like to work in the industry.

“I particularly enjoyed the opportunity to get an insight into the Randox COVID-19 labs, and it was the icing on the cake, at the end of an incredibly enjoyable two weeks, to win the Stellar Student award.

“Thank you Randox and Ulster University for a very rewarding experience which has made me so excited for what is up ahead – at university and in my career as a scientist.”

The first rotation of the Randox Student Training Academy took place in June, with 12 Biomedical Science students completing the course. The next session runs from September 6-17.

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