Friday, June 25, 2010

Novartis BioCamp - A milestone

The significance of Biotechnology in Pakistan was realized as far back as 1959 when the country’s first commission on Science & Technology emphasized the need of setting up research organizations. Pakistan’s educational system is growing up by time but what still needed to minimize the gap between Academia and Industry. The research conducted at our universities is rarely applied in the industry. Here, Novartis Pharmaceuticals took a step and initiated the first Local BioCamp in order to bring the students in direct contact with the pharmaceutical industry.

The 2-days BioCamp is an effort to bring young, talented and energetic students from diverse faculties and different universities closer to the field. 26 Students and researchers from different cities of Pakistan were evaluated and selected to participate in this exciting event. The participating universities were University of Karachi, HEJ institute, Baqai University, Ziauddin University, Hamdard University, University of Sindh, University of Punjab (Lahore) and Islamia University (Bahawalpur). On the other hand, two participants from media were also invited as participants’ i.e (Jibran T. Siddiqui, Health Reporter, News1 TV and Ovais Ahmed, Dawn News TV). Thus, Novartis succeeded to make a diversified combination of individuals from the areas of Pharmacy, Drug research, Molecular research and Health Journalism.

As a Health Reporter, I was a bit confused when called for BioCamp as I’m not a medical student. I had no idea if I would be able to understand the terms and discussions about an advanced discipline as Biotechnology. I was fortunate to have students like Muffrah, Shahid, Shahrukh and Hina in my group who belonged to different universities and had different specialities and skills. Throughout the conference, we worked together. Preparing and presenting the marketing plan about an Alzheimer Test was a challenging task and we together accomplished to a satisfactory performance. Thank you guys! All the presenters did very well and their marketing plans (prepared in 90 minutes only) were excellent from any point of view. This will surely help them in future.

The BioCamp participants were very fortunate to be accompanied by the distinguished experts from various fields. Speakers like Dr. Iqbal Choudhry (HEJ Institute), Dr. Saifullah Khan (HEJ Institute), M. Khalid Yousuf (Novartis), Dr. Ahson Siddiqi (Novartis) and Dr. Tasneem Farzana (NIBD) proved to be the best guiding stars. Moreover, sessions by Mr. Merajuddin (HR, Novartis) and Urooj Mazhar (School of Leadership), other feathers in the cap. Prof. Masood Hameed Khan (VC, Dow University of Health Sciences) spoke about BioTech at the inaugural ceremony and opened new doors of information to the students. Undoubtedly, the eminent speakers inspired the participants to create waves.

One of the most interesting parts of the BioCamp was the ‘Cultural evening’. All the participants were dressed up in eastern attire and performed one by one on the stage. These performances included Singing, speeches, poetry and dance. It was surprising the see the students performing so confidently on the stage. Maryah, Munazza, Omair and Shahrukh astonished me by their stage confidence, thumbs up! Ahmed Saleh attempted ‘Laal meri patt’ where the boys danced to the beats. My contribution for the night was an unplugged performance of Imik’s mellow song ‘Piya’. Some participants entertained the audience by humorous poetries that made everyone laugh out loud. Novartis family also delivered some exciting performances including the classic ‘Kabhi to tumko yaad ayengay’ by Dr. Ahson Siddiqi and a song performed by wife of a Novartis family member. Moiz’s stand-up comedy also brought smiles and refreshed the evening. Ovais Ahmed from Dawn presented a piece of poetry by Faiz and an extract from Pitras Bukhari with his skilled voice overs. Well done

The post-cultural evening gathering was the craziest moment. The participants sang and danced like no one watched J

What I learned from BioCamp was working in a team of different minds and utilizing their respective skills to achieve goals. On the other hand, BioCamp also introduced us to the modern trends of pharmaceuticals and biotechnology. Working together, the participants discovered their skills and talents and analyzed themselves in the context of SWOT (Strength, Weakness, Opportunities and Threats).

As a participant, I’m very thankful to Novartis who considered media as regular participant. This will help in bringing the three pillars Academia, Industry and Media closer and forming an effective triangle that works for social development.

I would like to thank people without whom this mega-event was not possible. Mr. Shabuddin, Mr. Merajddun, Mr. Khalid Yousuf and others from Novartis. Dr. Ahson Siddiqi remained as the guiding star and the prime mentor throughout the conference. He was physically and mentally present at each and every moment of BioCamp. Mr. Zia Anwer put tremendous effort in organizing the event while Ms. Tania Anjum proved herself a silent storm. I express special thanks for Zia and Tania for being dynamic, supportive and humble at the situations.

The two-day conference earned us great friends. As Ahmed Saleh said that the saddest part is that the night we turned great friends followed the day we left. Thank you Ovais for being a convenient room mate, Muffrah and Omair for being there at every moment, Hanna for bugging around, Ahmed Saleh, Maryah, Nayel, Munir, Sundus and Hanna for the late night fun and Munazza, Ali, Sajid, Kashif, Shahrukh, Shahid, Rakhshanda, Ayesha, Hina, Rabia and others for being there as shining stars. Wish you all best of luck for the future!

Congratulations to Ali Uzair and Hann`a Iqbal, who got selected for the International BioCamp in Basel, Switzerland. Best of luck mates =)

The Local BioCamp 2010 will remain as an unforgettable experience of my career. I hope the event stays as a milestone in our life and we implement the learning for a bright future.

- Jibran T. Siddiqui


  1. Splendid!!
    These are the best choices of words to frame the entire event... Jibran Siddiqui has really good writing capabilities.... while reading it, i re-lived the time spent together with our complete crew... loads of best wishes to all
    S. M. Ahmad Saleh
    Baqai Medical University

  2. wow very well written!! keep up the good work :)

  3. Although m late but its never too latee... Very well-written covering up all the aspects of Bio-camp from learning to entertaintment, the pictures in the article are awsome, thums up keep writing! Amal