Reckitt welcomes LSHTM’s health leaders of the future to their labs

Students at Reckitt office in Hull

Reckitt is the company behind some of the world’s largest health and hygiene brands such as Dettol, Nurofen, Strepsils and Durex.

As part of our ongoing partnership with Reckitt, we are working to develop the next generation of health leaders.

This summer, we invited four incredible students supported by Reckitt’s Fight For Access Accelerator, to the UK. Liliana Candida Dengo-Baloi, Jenala Chipungu, Rebecca Prah, and Christine Nabirye, are four doctoral students working on health and hygiene research, aiming to transform the landscape of health in Sub-Saharan communities.

The visit, which occurred in early July, aimed to equip the students with professional skills, insights from life in the private sector and connect them with other female leaders in STEM.

The week began with a workshop hosted by former BBC Science Editor David Shukman and Communication Expert Jessica Pyrce Jones, where they received  basic media training, interview skills and tips on presenting styles at the LSHTM Keppel Street Campus. This was particularly helpful in developing the students’ confidence and communication styles.

The students then travelled to Hull, where they received a warm welcome from Reckitt’s Chief Medical Officer, Bruce Charlesworth, who outlined Reckitt’s history growth over the years, and highlights of projects carried out by their expert researchers and scientists.

During their visit, the students were given a comprehensive tour of Reckitt’s cutting-edge facilities and laboratories, meeting with Reckitt’s distinguished scientists and experts, Calum Walker, R&D Director, Isabelle Bossard, the Global VP of Aircare & Pests, Oumou Mangassi, R&D Director, and Carme, the Global Head of Regulatory Affairs, Health.

Liliana, Jenala, Rebecca, and Christine then presented research updates to Reckitt colleagues, sharing breakthroughs, challenges and visions for a healthier future The presentations were showcased to Reckitt leaders, who assessed their presentations and shared insights into their roles and life in private sector.

Since the visit in July this year, each of the students have made progress on their research projects, including Jenala who has just received approval in her research ethics protocol submission from LSHTM and is now waiting to hear back from the local University of Zambia Biomedical Research Ethics Committee (UNZABREC).

Rebecca has also recently obtained the necessary ethical approvals for her  research from both the ethics committees at LSHTM and the MRC/UVRI and LSHTM unit in Uganda. Additionally, she has notified the Uganda National Council for Science and Technology about her research activities. By using the skills she learned at the presentation training, Rebecca presented her research at the International Health Economics Association (IHEA) Congress a few days after their visit to Hull. ‘The skills have become part of my public speaking skills since the training,’ she says. As well as this, Rebecca left the trip feeling ‘intrigued and inspired by the company’s history which showcased a legacy of innovation and excellence that continues to drive Reckitt forward in its work to provide top-quality hygiene products.’

Christine Nabirye, who has completed the upgrading process and has started the data collection for her PhD, notes that the presentation training allowed her to learn ‘a lot about the kind of presenter I am and ways to improve my presentations skills’ which is vital to the future of her research.

Liliana learnt a lot in the past year, but the most enriching experience she had was ‘the regular and constant feedback from my supervisors and my peers.’

Ultimately, the students found the visit ‘eye-opening’ and ‘renewed their passion of science’, and largely found presenting research updates the most interesting part.