During his service with Bristol-Myers Squibb, and as part of his responsibilities to assist schools with talent development, Dr. Hedberg created a unique education program that targets graduating high-school students. RxeSEARCH—An Educational Journey was developed in conjunction with a colleague in Corporate Affairs now operating independently as BTaylor Public Affairs.

The goal of RxeSEARCH is to enable students to use theories and concepts taught in the classroom for practical purposes— all within the framework of an R&D workplace.

The program is based on a fictional narrative. It begins with the identification of a new infectious disease. It ends two to three weeks later with the release of a medication to combat that disease. (Those two to three weeks of classroom time represent more than ten years of R&D.)

Throughout the initiative, students are immersed in complex, multidisciplinary work that:
  • begins with exploration and basic research
  • moves through intense phases of preclinical and clinical development
  • ends with critical decisions about marketing strategies, pricing, and distribution
  • requires that both students and teachers collaborate in teams, fact find, analyze, negotiate, and make difficult decisions

RxeSEARCH gives students the opportunity to experience firsthand the challenges of applied analysis and problem solving; negotiation for resource allocation; decision making under deadline pressure; and the value of effective teamwork. They also have to call upon their communication skills and ethical judgment.

RxeSEARCH delivers another benefit: Students meet and work with industry practitioners to discuss the day-to-day realities of their work and explore career opportunities.

The program's curriculum was written by teachers and industry specialists and adapted and edited for general classroom application by the National Science Resources Center (NSRC). The latter was given full copyright to the program for continuing development in 2008 and is now fully responsible for its continuing development, distribution, and administration.

More than forty school districts in five states (Iowa, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania) have adopted RxeSEARCH. The potential of this program to serve as a model for similar initiatives through active engagement of other R&D-based sectors and government-sponsored science and technology is obvious and exciting.