Published on 31/05/2023
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old photo of war years pharmacy students
  • Aston University opens Pharmacy 100 exhibition to celebrate the history of Aston Pharmacy School 
  • It highlights research by Professor Malcolm Stevens on the brain cancer drug temozolomide and Professor Cliff Bailey on diabetes treatment with metformin
  • Exhibition includes a timeline and artefacts, including vintage blazer and wartime memorabilia.

Aston University is celebrating one hundred years of pharmacy teaching and research with an exhibition in the main building of its city centre campus from 31 May.

The Pharmacy 100 anniversary exhibition in the glass box space located in the main entrance foyer will run until 31 July. It offers a journey through the rich history of Aston Pharmacy School, with a special focus on significant milestones such as the war years and major research discoveries.

The exhibition highlights the contributions made by some of its researchers, showcasing their achievements that have had a lasting impact on the field of pharmacy. 

Notably, it pays tribute to Professor Malcolm Stevens, who developed the blockbuster brain cancer drug temozolomide, a ground-breaking advancement in cancer treatment. It also highlights the pioneering work of Professor Cliff Bailey, who revolutionized the treatment of diabetes with the development of metformin, now the most widely used drug for managing the disease worldwide.

Aston University's roots in pharmacy education can be traced back to the late 19th century, with significant developments in 1919 when the Birmingham Municipal Technical School began offering fully funded pharmacy training to returning serviceman from the First World War. The department then expanded in 1923 and began accepting applications from the general public. Aston Pharmacy School has since graduated thousands of students and gained recognition as a leading pharmacy school in the UK. 

Visitors to the exhibition will be taken on a journey through the history of Aston Pharmacy School through a timeline that traces its evolution over the past century. The collection of artefacts on display includes an authentic old school blazer from the 1930s, a 19th century pill rolling machine, 1940s tablet tin and wartime memorabilia, providing a tangible connection to the school's heritage.

Dr Joe Bush, head of Aston Pharmacy School, said: "We are delighted to open the Pharmacy 100 anniversary exhibition, which serves as a testament to the remarkable journey of Aston Pharmacy School. We encourage everyone to come and explore this captivating display and discover the extraordinary legacy of our institution. I am immensely proud of our heritage and the invaluable contributions we continue to make in the field of pharmacy."

The exhibition is part of a broader campaign to celebrate the 100-year milestone of Aston Pharmacy School. As part of this campaign, a celebratory lunch will be held in July to bring together current and former staff and students.

A podcast has also been released on the Aston Originals YouTube channel, featuring Dr Joe Bush, Professor Afzal Mohammed and Professor Gavin Woodhall, in which they reflect on key moments in the history of Aston Pharmacy School and shed light on what makes it a truly exceptional place to study and undertake research.  

A social media campaign will feature inspiring videos of academics and will take a look at research being undertaken within the school and will be shared across social media including Twitter and Instagram. The campaign is using the hashtag #AstonPharmacy100. 

For more information about the history of Aston Pharmacy School please visit our webpage.

Notes to editors

About Aston University

Founded in 1895 and a university since 1966, Aston University 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.

In 2022 Aston University was ranked in the top 25 of 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.

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