Three 4th year pharmacy students of Riga Stradins University (RSU) – Anete Vircava from Salaspils, Anna Novosada from Daugavpils and Jūlija Gurinoviča from Ventspils – have received the EUR 1400 scholarship provided by the pharmaceutical company Olainfarm AS in the annual competition. Olainfarm has been awarding the scholarship to the brightest pharmacy students for the 13th year to promote excellence in the Latvian pharmaceutical industry.

“Knowledge of pharmacy gives young people fantastic career opportunities – from the highly responsible work of a pharmacist in a pharmacy, to jobs in science, drug registration and the development of new medicines. Getting young people interested in pharmaceuticals is extremely important for the development of the pharmaceutical industry and for the overall health of society, as pharmacists are often the first people we turn to when we have signs of illness or want to improve our health. That is why I am happy for every pharmacy student and especially pleased with their outstanding achievements in their studies, which will help to promote excellence in the Latvian pharmaceutical industry,” says Juris Bundulis, Chairman of the Board of Olainfarm AS.

All three scholarship holders, who have an average grade above nine, are attracted to the wide range of work and research opportunities in the pharmacy profession. Their interest in the sector comes from their families as they have relatives working in healthcare.

Anete Vircava, a 4th year student from Salaspils, says that she relies mainly on logical thinking and understanding in her studies. She was fascinated by chemistry and biology in high school, and her older brother, who also studied in the same field, also developed an interest in pharmacy. The choice was also driven by a desire to help people. Anete admits that she is currently most interested in working in the laboratory, so she is delighted to have the opportunity to do an internship at Olainfarm in the near future, which will allow her to get to know the drug manufacturing process even better, especially research, and will also help her decide which area to specialise in. Alongside her studies, she has already gained her first research experience, working with colleagues at the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry at RSU on a new method for sterilising drug-containing hydrogels. She also gains practical experience by combining her studies with her work as a senior laboratory assistant at Riga Stradins University.

Anna Novosada, a 4th year pharmacy student from Daugavpils, is not only a high achiever in her studies, but is also an active member of the Latvian Association of Pharmacy Students and represents the interests of local students in Europe. Anna’s interest in pharmacy dates back to her childhood, as her mother was a pharmacist. Alongside her studies, Anna works as a laboratory technician in the Pharmacology Laboratory at the Institute of Organic Synthesis, where she has recently conducted research on the role of the Sigma-1 receptor in the development of brain dysfunction after head injury. For this research, she won first prize at this year’s Pharmacology Student Conference as part of the RSU Research Week event supported by Olainfarm. She plans to continue with doctoral studies, combining them with work as a pharmacist in a pharmacy. She has no doubt that she will be able to do it, as she is already successfully combining laboratory work with her studies.

Jūlija Gurinoviča, a 4th year student from Ventspils, has been interested in healthcare since childhood, inspired by her mother – a family doctor. Jūlija is already combining her studies with her work in pharmacy. She is pleased that, despite still being a student, she has managed to gain people’s trust and they are happy to turn to her for advice. She has worked both in a pharmacy in Ventspils and in pharmacies in Riga, concluding that empathy is very important in a pharmacist’s work. She believes that the pharmaceutical profession and pharmacists’ extensive knowledge of medicines, their effects, their use and their preparation is generally undervalued by the public.

Olainfarm has been awarding scholarships to students of the Faculty of Pharmacy at RSU since 2011. The scholarship competition is organised jointly with the RSU Alumni Association, assessing both the grades of young pharmacists and students’ performance in research and science. The aim of the scholarship is to financially support the most talented students and to give them the opportunity to explore career opportunities in industry and business during their studies. Olainfarm awards three scholarships each year to final year students of the Faculty of Pharmacy at RSU, as well as provides internship opportunities. Scholarship holders are selected competitively, with an average grade above 7.5.

To promote the development of the chemistry and pharmaceutical industries, Olainfarm has also created a scholarship for future chemistry teachers, which was awarded for the first time this year. Olainfarm will invest €75,000 over the next five years to support young chemistry teachers.