Bionic woman lifts Pharmacy student to STEM Awards success

A ‘bionic woman’ concept has seen a Medway School of Pharmacy student race to prestigious national recognition

26th May 2015

Habiba at the Daily Telegraph

Habiba Akhtar has been named as a finalist in the Daily Telegraph’s STEM Awards, a competition which gives ambitious students an opportunity to prove themselves to leading industry experts.

The 23-year-old, who is in the third year of her MPharm programme, was named as the winner of the pharmaceutical category for her creation. Habiba’s plan is for her bionic woman – still at the initial development stage – to be used in clinical trials, as an in-between step before drugs are trialled on humans. Her creation will include lab-grown blood vessels and artificial lungs to create a complete ‘body’, which can then be controlled by a computer to mimic the effects of different diseases.

The student now goes forward to the final round, in which she faces competition from the winners of the four other categories in the areas of technology, automotive, design in the built environment, and energy.
The overall winner will be announced at a ceremony in June, after a panel of expert judges – which includes Countdown’s Rachel Riley – has assessed the category winners’ proposals.

Habiba says: “People are living longer and diseases aren’t always easy to predict or eradicate, and so we need innovative technology to help meet the demand. I believe this model will greatly decrease the time for new drugs to come to the market and perhaps allow the discoveries of new blockbusters.

“I didn’t imagine I’d get this far. It’s made me more confident and I’m very excited for what the future holds,” Habiba adds. “This competition has taught me so much more about opportunities that are available to us as students and I’ve acquired valuable skills that will help my transition to life as a professional.”

A Daily Telegraph STEM Awards spokesperson says: “If the response to the awards is anything to go by, the future of the sector is in good hands. Now in its second year, the competition is going from strength to strength, with an impressive number of high quality entries received.”

Jointly run by the universities of Greenwich and Kent, Medway School of Pharmacy is based at the institutions’ shared campus at Chatham Maritime. The School opened its doors to its first students in 2004: today it has more than 650 undergraduate and 150 postgraduate students, runs a range of programmes for healthcare professionals, and has extensive laboratories and research facilities.

For more about the STEM Awards 2015:


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Last Updated 26/05/2015