Science, Research and Tetes Chercheuses… What even is that?
This website was previously owned by Merck Frosst which was an Educational and Research Center committed towards scientific research in pharmaceutical medicines and innovation. Their website was in operation from early 2000 to sometimes in late 2008 and their main slogan was about ‘Exploring Minds’.
Below is their health policy that I recovered from wayback machine as it was then, while they were in operation:
While Merck Frosst’s main activities are the discovery, development, manufacturing and distribution of medicines, the company also recognizes the responsibility it bears as a member of the healthcare community. Clearly, the individual health of every Canadian is tied to the long-term soundness of the country’s health care system.
This insight has led Merck Frosst to establish a Patient Health Management group and a Health Policy Division. These structures are intended to allow the company to participate fully with other stakeholders in the healthcare system to ensure patient access to optimal therapies, while improving costs and health outcomes.
I do love scientific research
A radiologist doctor, general practitioner, or a pharmacist, are very few of the most amazing doctor careers anyone could have. Or even a scientist.
Both are very interesting and you learn lots either way, especially if you decide to learn about breast cancer and everything about it – from types to treatments, from risks to why obesity can be one of the causes, and why a healthy diet is so important. Therefore after much thought, I decided to post stories about scientists that I could gather.
Since this organization was mainly involved in the research and development of pharmaceutical medicine, below is some information that I gathered from their ‘Research and Development’ page;
Research and Development
Welcome to the Merck Frosst Centre for Therapeutic Research, the world-class biopharmaceutical research centre and drug discovery powerhouse of Merck Frosst Canada & Co., the Canadian subsidiary of Merck & Co., Inc.
You are entering the scientific zone of our website
Here we showcase our research programs targeting the discovery of new treatments for respiratory and inflammatory diseases, as well as our work in exciting new areas of endocrinology, bone biology and neurodegenerative disorders.
The Merck Frosst Center for Therapeutic Research is the largest private biomedical research facility in Canada and a premier laboratory in drug discovery. More than 300 scientists are based in the state-of-the-art research facility in Montréal, Quebec. Rapid growth is expected over the next few years, with new facilities currently under construction or planned.
The Merck Frosst Center for Therapeutic Research is solid evidence of the commitment of Merck Frosst to invest in innovative research and development (R&D), investment that totaled more than $120 million in 2002, and represented over 10% of the entire R&D budget of Canada’s pharmaceutical industry.
The Center is divided into five research groups:
Medicinal Chemistry, Biological Sciences, Process Chemistry, Pharmacology, and Pharmaceutical Research and Development. The R&D programs of the Merck Frosst Center for Therapeutic Research are aimed at discovering novel and improved therapeutic agents for the treatment of respiratory, inflammatory and other diseases.
The researchers at Merck Frosst are world leaders in leukotriene and prostaglandin research and have quickly built international reputations in new research areas such as apoptosis (“cell suicide”).
In the last five years the leukotriene and prostaglandin programs have yielded two highly effective and innovative medicines: the leukotriene D4 receptor antagonist SINGULAIR® (montelukast sodium) for bronchial asthma in adults and children as young as six, and VIOXX® (rofecoxib), a selective COX-2 inhibitor for osteoarthritis and acute pain. Both are highly effective once-a-day oral therapies.
While the Centre will continue to build on its success in leukotrienes and prostaglandins research, Merck Frosst scientists are also looking to new areas. Challenging projects aimed at the future benefit of patients. This includes innovative work on inhibitors of apoptosis, with potential applications in treatment of diseases; such as stroke and Alzheimer’s disease.
Work on natural enzymes that deactivate the insulin receptor
This job is looking ahead to new therapies for diabetes and obesity. Research is also continuing on other approaches to treatments for human bronchial asthma, and investigating possibilities for building new bone in the bone-thinning disease, osteoporosis.
The Merck Frosst Centre for Therapeutic Research is investing aggressively in bioinformatics, proteomics, gene expression technology and research information technology, to increase productivity and speed the drug discovery process.
The vigorous research and development program at Merck Frosst has a ripple effect, stimulating scientific innovation across Canada. Through the funding of university and hospital-based science and other partnerships, Merck Frosst is helping to create an environment that attracts world-class science to Canada and keep it here.
We hope that all visiting scientists will enjoy our site
For those looking for the next step in their careers, we would encourage you to check out career opportunities with us. Merck Frosst is always interested in world-class scientists who wish to apply their talents to build on our legacy of success for a healthier tomorrow.
Below, are some interesting posts that I have gathered and they are worth reading. You can access them by clicking through the various categories…
Recently, I was invited by my former high school to judge a science fair for middle school grades 7-9. Be that as it may, I was honored by this noble opportunity as it went a long way to show how highly my former school thought of me. Okay, not to brag but I am sort of a legend at the place.
I mean, I made the school famous for presenting very innovative science projects and experiments; since I was in sixth grade. However, I must confess that I had an added advantage of being assisted by my two elder siblings, who were very good science students in high school and college at the time.
My projects always went on to win top prizes in the school division and even district levels. Actually, considering the countless resources available to students today, I think if I was middle school or high school student today I would break science.
The Judgeship Offer
Enough with the bragging, I accepted the judgeship offer on the phone while mumbling something about cancelling something, not to appear too eager to judge 7th graders. I am lucky that the principal of my former high school was not close to see my beaming face. I know you must be concocting some image of me, a frustrated and dull science student craving for the limelight. This is not true.
Actually, I participate in many other co-curricular activities in college that ensure enough publicity on my part. I only feel that scientists, especially the largely ignored medical and pharmacological scientists, deserve a bit of publicity and celebration. I mean, it is not only sportsmen and celebrities who are motivated by the cameras, scientists too.
The Science Fair
A total of four judges were invited to judge the middle school science fair. When it came to judging the science projects and experiments created by the young students, I was fascinated. The students had not let my banner down; in fact they had raised it even higher. There were many experiments that aimed to explain various scientific issues.
For example, one 9th grader compellingly illustrated the effect of massage therapy on relaxation. Another had conducted a project to correlate athletic ability to finger length. Another 8th grader presented a project with compelling evidence that mediation was the most effective stress management technique. Frankly, the list was endless and the enthusiasm was overpowering. The students were very articulate and their presentation skills were exquisite.
It is embarrassing for me to accept that I learnt invaluable lessons from my judging experience at my former high school. Frankly, the young students challenged me and made me reflect on my level of commitment to my undergrad medical science experiments. The level of enthusiasm exhibited by the young students and the depth of research made me resolve to reignite my scientific fire upon returning to medical school.
After the summer break, I returned to campus with the middle school fair experience ringing in my head. I recounted my experience to my course mates and challenged everyone in our undergrad class to embark on an individual and a group project for presentation in the upcoming state-wide Science fair. I should report that since that incident, my course mates and I have made some great contributions in science as will be confirmed by our exhibits during the upcoming fair.
The Unlikely Science Student
Many science students and professionals that I have come across narrate the same story about how they found themselves in this profession. These stories usually take the following forms. “I knew that I had to take up medical science when I was still in junior high school.” Others say, “I was fascinated by science in third grade, the microscope and so on and so forth.” Just so you know, although I am a medical student, my story is a bit different from the normal stories told by multiple science students and professionals.
I chose medical science because I unexpectedly passed my final exam and I could not think of a less scary course than this one. In other words, I am in medical science by chance and am both surprised and confused.
I should explain that my honesty is a product of my naivety. That is why I must backtrack to show why I am both surprised and confused by new course. I used to be an arts-focused student in my pasts education endeavors. However, I really scored high marks in my final paper and everybody including me thought that I had to take up an undergrad science course to “put the high score to good use.” Consequently, I changed my earlier undergrad choices and settled for medical science.
After admission, I must admit that I have started to like this course and I am even starting to feel at home in campus. I enjoy and appreciate how my fellow course mates are serious. Again, you should know that I was not counted among the most serious students before joining the undergraduate program. The other students also seem to treat science students with a respect and dignity, although I have not yet decided whether they are just being snobbish.
The most amazing part of the whole experience concerns our practical lessons. The labs are fascinating and our instructors are very supportive. I was fascinated with the first experiments I conducted because I never thought that I could setup and even register findings that matched other proven findings. I mean, medical science is just fascinating, period.
One aspect that I am struggling with regards private reading. Our science instructors keep emphasizing the need for private or individual research and reading. However, I am not a very good researcher especially on my own. I have found a solution to this predicament by teaming up with two other course mates to form s study group. The study group helps us to review the day’s teachings and other tasks together. We also motivate each other and combine efforts to solve some of the perplexing course problems.
Change Of Heart
There was a time when I had considered that if this medical student stuff did not work out I would quit. I had decided that I would blend in for about a month or so and if I failed to grasp the concept I would quit.
However, I must admit that I have had a change of heart and that I am here to stay. Actually, I have decided to even do something revolutionary now that I am here. So, medical science be prepared because I am here to stay!
A Day in The Life Of A Medical Scientist
Many people visualize scientists as abnormal human beings and the career itself as weird hence the coining of terms such as geeks. However, I should not generalize but should instead point out that not all scientists are considered this way; specially these days when IT has become much cooler and rewarding. It is true that during the early days all scientists were considered weird and geeky, what you expect with an obnoxious-looking character like Albert Einstein leading the pack.
However, the internet revolution and the popularity of IT-related science have made some part of science white and the other black. While the IT guys bask in fame and glory and are adored by all, medical scientists and pharmacologists are still classified as the weird professionals trapped in a boring and dull career.
I have noticed that since my days in college, all the other students and even lecturers consider medical and pharmacological scientists as somewhat weird. AS a student, this was especially evident when we tried to score girls from the other ‘mainstream’ courses.
The first question that kept popping up across different catches concerned how we spent our days. Although this question appears harmless and innocent, it is important to note that those behind the question usually have a preconceived answer.
That is; his day is boring or even scary. After raising this issue with several of my colleagues, I decided to outline my typical day as a medical and pharmacological scientist. Note that this outline is not meant to elicit popularity from the masses but rather to seek inclusion into the mainstream society as normal professionals.
My Typical Daily Routine
My day starts at around six when I wake up and shower, take breakfast and flip across TV channels just like a normal guy. I live a few miles from the university campus so I usually ride my bike to the place. Yeah, I need to keep fit. When I get to my office, I usually start by checking my mail. I then check my appointments and consider which meetings to attend and which to skip.
Just like a normal guy, yes. Then I start the real day with lab meetings, reviewing data and planning experiments. My student teams usually meet me in the lab and I advise postdoctoral students and other junior scientists. After this, I usually attend meetings as planned in my appointment record.
I know many are curious to know what is discussed in these meetings or rather how boring are they. I will tell you that these meetings are very exciting. We discuss research and development of drugs, review treatment procedures and discuss new drug discoveries. It is just like discussing a new corporate takeover at a Citibank meeting.
After lunch, I usually review my manuscripts and data reports and then engage in a bit of capitalism. This involves checking opportunities for biotechnology acquisition and licensing and also engaging with other stakeholders to find out any new developments.
Isn’t it cool?
Finally, my day is over and as you can see its all business as usual just like everybody else. After 4 I hit the gym for one hour before heading to home if there are no social plans for the evening. At home, I help my two kids with their homework and play the family man role. I will say this folks, my life is rather normal and cool or what do you think?
An Unlikely Trip
Several years ago I accompanied a colleague and personal friend of mine to the White House Fair of Science. Actually, my colleague, a renowned medical researcher, was invited to give a speech. As for me, I must confess that I just went there to see whether there were any new interesting medical innovations in the highly publicized event.
I must confess that despite my friend’s promises of finding impressive innovations at the fair, I was a bit skeptical that kids could come up with impressive medical innovations. As a medical scientist, my skepticism is not unfounded considering that the most hyped aspect of science in today’s world is information technology.
In this light, I did not expect to find any rewarding medical or pharmacological innovations but expected a lot of IT stuff. However, as a scientist, my curiosity spurred me on. Add that to the chance of being in the presence of some of the greatest scientific minds and it was a go for me.
We arrived a few minutes late and I must say that the first thing that surprised me was the huge number of people in attendance. The programs stated there were over a hundred students from over 45 states featuring in over 40 different competitions.
After assessing the multitude of people in attendance, I must say that I thought these figure were understated or there were other gatecrashers like me. The other surprise was the relatively young age off most of the students presenting in the exhibition. The median age must have been around 16 or 17 at most.
Amazing Medical Innovations
After reviewing most of the exhibits, which were mostly IT as preconceived earlier, there were several medical innovations that impressed and even awed me. The first was a design by a 17 year old girl for the targeted treatment of cancer. The young girl from California had designed a nano-system that could be used to target cancer stem cells (CSCs) with drugs.
The CSCs are responsible for initiating and accelerating tumor growth and they are notoriously resistant to contemporary cancer treatments. The young girl had designed a nano-system that could ensure direct drug delivery to CSCs hence overcoming their drug resistance notoriety, minimizing side effects and allowing for real-time treatment monitoring. Apparently, this brilliant innovation had won the young girl $100,000 in a Siemens competition. I must admit I was impressed.
Another innovation that caught my eye was by a 17 year old student who was exploring ways to improve cancer treatment by overcoming chemotherapy resistance. The young student from Texas exhibited various ways to overcome cancer resistance treatment in the treatment of ovarian cancer. She has also received numerous awards including the 2011 Google award. Wow.
Finally, the third innovation that impressed by scientific mind was by an 18 year old student regarding the treatment of sickle cell anemia. Using hemoglobin genetics, the girl from Illinois illustrated how sequence changes can effect fetal hemoglobin production in mouse models, research which can be used to understand treatment mechanisms for sickle cell disease. She was also highly honored.
Time Well Spent
My trip to the Whitehouse made me realize two things regarding the modern academic setting. One, kids are really innovative, which can be attributed to increased information flow due to the internet. Two, the modern student is highly recognized and appreciated. I mean, the way these kids are supported by companies is very incentivizing and motivating creating a fertile ground for research. All in all, I had to admit to my friend that the evening was not wasted.
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