My internship experience at ICRC-Weyer

The Latin quote “Exerci­ta­tio opti­mus est mag­is­ter” by Publil­ius Syrus (cir­ca 42 BC), which trans­lates as “Prac­tice is the best of all instruc­tors”, reflects the sig­nif­i­cance of prac­tice with­in all fields of knowl­edge. Nev­er­the­less, dur­ing post­grad­u­ate edu­ca­tion, the pri­ma­ry focus is often based on acquir­ing con­cep­tu­al knowl­edge, some­times fail­ing to place an empha­sis on train­ing, tack­ling and solv­ing real-life problems.

I am a PhD stu­dent in Biotech­nol­o­gy who want­ed to gain hands-on expe­ri­ence in world-scale projects and take my eyes off the micro­scope. There­in lies the rea­son why I felt very for­tu­nate to have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to do an intern­ship at ICRC-Wey­er. I am cur­rent­ly com­plet­ing my doc­tor­al stud­ies at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cata­nia, Italy, inves­ti­gat­ing the histopatho­log­i­cal and immuno­his­to­chem­i­cal aspects of osteoarthri­tis and the devel­op­ment of inno­v­a­tive tech­nolo­gies in the field of tis­sue engi­neer­ing aimed at the regen­er­a­tion of dam­aged hya­line cartilage.

Since I have a master’s degree in Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal Chem­istry and Tech­nol­o­gy and I worked as a Phar­ma­cist, my biggest curios­i­ty has always been to under­stand the chal­lenges and com­plex­i­ties of the process behind drug devel­op­ment. For a mol­e­cule, going from “bench to bed­side”, requires an excit­ing but long and ardu­ous road, which goes from flasks to ani­mal cages, from clin­ics to the mar­ket. An effi­cient process of trans­lat­ing lab­o­ra­to­ry dis­cov­ery into patient care begins by ask­ing the right ques­tions and apply­ing the sci­en­tif­ic method in all its steps. This requires sev­er­al years of work, com­mit­ment and resources from researchers, health pro­fes­sion­als, patients, and soci­ety as a whole.

My first impres­sion of ICRC was its sim­i­lar­i­ty to Kuroko. The Japan­ese term “Kuroko” refers to stage­hands in tra­di­tion­al Japan­ese the­atre, respon­si­ble to move scenery and props on stage, aid­ing in scene changes, while main­tain­ing dis­cre­tion as they all wear black to avoid dis­tract­ing the audi­ence. As Kuroko, ICRC works under­neath the intri­cate tex­ture of all types of clin­i­cal tri­al projects aid­ing, for exam­ple, in Bio­sta­tis­tics, Data Man­age­ment, Med­ical Writ­ing, and Phar­ma­covig­i­lance, ensur­ing a client’s trust on the com­pa­ny to deliv­er a project at a high standard.

In doing so, I was impressed to observe the com­mit­ment, rig­or, and com­pe­tence that these objec­tives entail. Basic sci­en­tif­ic research inves­ti­gates hypoth­e­sis, prod­ucts, and tech­nolo­gies that most of the time take sev­er­al years of work, with­out the cer­tain­ty of reach­ing the mar­ket. On the oth­er hand, work­ing at ICRC I con­tribute to those steps of analy­sis that will ulti­mate­ly lead to answer­ing the sci­en­tif­ic ques­tions that start­ed the study in the first place. See­ing first-hand real data from patient’s vis­its and cohorts, also gives the noble feel­ing of tak­ing part in valu­able projects that seek to improve soci­ety and people’s lives, with­out los­ing the plea­sure of learn­ing and discovery.

Final­ly, I am inspired by the spir­it of sup­port and equi­ty in the work­place, and I appre­ci­ate that the achieve­ments mir­ror the qual­i­ty of the team rather than those of the indi­vid­ual. The ICRC-Wey­er fam­i­ly shares its wis­dom, knowl­edge, and expe­ri­ence with the peo­ple it wel­comes, ensur­ing qual­i­ty, eth­i­cal integri­ty, and reli­a­bil­i­ty at every milestone.

Sil­via Raval­li, Trainee Biostatistician