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New program prepares students for biotech careers

December 19, 2006

Photo of a  female student working in an SF State labA grant of $891,000 from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation has allowed the California State University to launch a prestigious graduate science program. SF State is one of 12 CSU campuses that will implement the Professional Science Master's Degree (PSM), a two-year program that provides math, science and engineering graduate students with the skills essential for excelling in high-growth technical industries. SF State will receive about $50,000 in seed money to begin its program, which will be led by Lily Chen, associate professor of biology. Additional support for the PSM initiative has been committed by the CSU, participating campuses and business and industry partners.

"We are extremely pleased that the prestigious Alfred P. Sloan Foundation recognizes the exceptional quality of the graduate science programs that our campuses offer, and their potential for growth due to this generous contribution," CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed said. In addition to SF State, the CSU campuses participating in the initial launch are Chico, Dominguez Hills, East Bay, Fullerton, Fresno, Los Angeles, San Marcos, Stanislaus, Pomona, San Diego and San Jose.

Implementation will occur over the next three years. The effort targets a variety of high-tech fields including bioinformatics, biostatistics, biotechnology, clinical project management, computational science, ecological economics, environmental science and forensics. The CSU PSM programs will also feature internships that provide essential industry-based experience and exposure.

Michael Goldman, professor and chair of biology, announced that the focus at SF State will be biotechnology and regenerative medicine.

"Training for our students in these areas will significantly contribute to the growth of the Bay Area's biotechnology, pharmaceutical and stem cell technology industries," Goldman said. He added that the program will usher in the next generation of molecular diagnostics and personalized medicine aimed at the development and prescription of drugs based on knowledge of an individual's genetic profile.

PSM programs are taking shape at about 100 colleges and universities across the nation. CSU's program is the first developed throughout a statewide higher education system.

"The Professional Science Master's Degree is one of the most significant new innovations in higher education in the nation," said Keith Boyum, CSU associate vice chancellor for academic affairs, who led the systemwide initiative to develop the PSM. "An initiative like this can only enhance the CSU's already high caliber, cutting-edge programs." He estimates that the CSU should produce more than 1,100 PSM graduates within the first five years of its programs.

If enacted, the National Innovation Act, a new federal legislation proposed in the Senate to improve the U.S. innovation infrastructure and maintain a competitive edge in global market work forces, would provide $20 million to support national PSM programs.

-- Denize Springer


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Last modified December 19, 2006 by University Communications