Published on 14/07/2023
Five invited guests at the Pharmacy 100 event
  • 100 distinguished guests were invited, including NHS England Deputy Chief Pharmaceutical Officer Richard Cattell and Pharmacists' Defence Association Chairman Mark Koziol
  • Full-time pharmacy courses began at Birmingham Municipal Technical School in 1923
  • Richard, Joe Bush, Head of Pharmacy at Aston Pharmacy School, and pharmacy student David Boakye gave speeches

Aston University’s Pharmacy School has celebrated its 100th anniversary with a drinks reception and lunch for 100 invited guests.

Joe Bush, Head of Pharmacy at Aston University welcomed guests with a brief history of pharmacy at Aston University. Richard Cattell, NHS England Deputy Chief Pharmaceutical Officer, and current student and athlete David Boakye addressed those gathered on their experiences of studying at Aston University, the importance of pharmacy as a sector and their hopes for the future. 

Teaching pharmacy at Aston University in fact goes back to the 1890s, but in 1923, the then-Birmingham Municipal Technical School started to offer pharmacy courses to the general public. The first degrees were formally awarded by the University of London, then in 1966, Birmingham Municipal Technical School received its charter, becoming Aston University, and began to award its own degrees. The MPharm degree was introduced in 1997, and almost 3,000 students have since graduated from this programme. In 1985, Malcolm Stevens led research that ultimately resulted in the discovery of the $2 billion blockbuster drug Temozolomide, the leading treatment for brain tumours. The Pharmacy School has maintained high standards of teaching and research and in 2016 was awarded the UK’s only Regius Professor of Pharmacy by the late Queen Elizabeth II. The first of these professors was Keith Wilson, and pharmacoepidemiologist Ian Wong will join Aston University as the second.

The Pharmacy 100 event coincided with the 75th birthday of the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), which Aston University also marked by lighting the library up in blue. Medicine is a key area for Aston University, and the first cohort of doctors from the newly General Medical Council-approved Aston Medical School will graduate this year. In his speech, Richard pointed out the importance of pharmacy to the NHS. Each year, 1.2 billion prescriptions are dispensed, from more than 11,000 sites across the country. Medicines cost the NHS around £20 billion per year, making them the NHS’s second biggest cost. Institutes like Aston University are vital to training the professionals who will keep the NHS at the forefront of medicine, particularly in the era of genomics, AI, and big data, where Aston in particular is “making great strides”.

“It was a privilege to attend the Pharmacy 100 celebratory luncheon. It was great to discuss with recent graduates, academic colleagues, local employers and professional leaders, the unique place Aston School of Pharmacy has in the future of pharmacy education. Its history of education, innovation and research putting it in a great position to lead the way over the next 100 years. I wish all associated with Aston School of Pharmacy all the very best in the future,” said Richard.

Aston University continues to champion diversity and its widening participation programme, and the Pharmacy School is no exception. Student David, who came to the UK from Italy in 2012, benefitted from a scholarship. He is only the second person in his family to go to university (the first being his older brother), and praised the blend of cultures at Aston University, as well as the opportunities to meet influential people, and for personal development. Alongside his studies, David trains as a 100m and 200m sprinter, competing on an international level, and has set up the Germenate platform, to encourage and support black men in STEM subjects.

Mark Koziol, Chairman of the Pharmacists' Defence Association (PDA), an Aston University graduate and one of the invited guests, said: “The real expert role for pharmacists is to get patients to understand what to do with their medicines and the effect their medicines have on them. Now we’re moving towards genomics, so those medicines are going to be even more interesting and more complex, so that role for pharmacists continues to grow, and continues to be important and influential. The exciting horizon for pharmacists today is that in three years’ time, for the first time, just like doctors, pharmacists are going to be writing prescriptions. That’s a transformation of the entire profession. 

“Aston University produces a lot of people who ultimately go on to leadership positions in the profession, and there are quite a few examples of that here today. I’m delighted to have been invited.”

Notes to editors

About Aston University

Founded in 1895 and a university since 1966, Aston is a long established university led by its three main beneficiary groups – students, business and the professions, and the West Midlands region and wider society. Located in Birmingham at the heart of a vibrant city, the campus houses all the University’s academic, social and accommodation facilities for our students. Professor Aleks Subic is the Vice-Chancellor & Chief Executive.

Aston University is ranked 22nd in the UK in the Guardian University Guide, based on measures including entry standards, student satisfaction, research quality and graduate prospects. The Aston Business School MBA programme was ranked in the top 100 in the world in the Economist MBA 2021 ranking.

For media inquiries in relation to this release, contact Helen Tunnicliffe, Press and Communications Manager, on (+44)7827 090240 or email: h.tunnicliffe@aston.ac.uk

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