SF State News {University Communications}

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New biotech master's combines science, business

Sept. 14, 2010 -- An innovative new graduate program that combines science and business welcomed its first cohort this fall. The professional science masters in biotechnology prepares students for careers in the life sciences, equipping them for employment in such areas as project management, research and development, and regulatory affairs.

Photo of a group of six students, the first cohort of the new professional science masters in Photo of a group of six students, the first cohort of the new professional science masters in biotechnology

Students in the first cohort of the new professional science masters in biotechnology.

For students like Diana Bowers, this interdisciplinary master's degree is a welcome alternative to typical graduate programs that lead to careers in academic research. "Cell and molecular biology became my passion as an undergraduate at SF State, but I don't see myself as a scientist," Bowers said.

She worked in accounting before enrolling at SF State to study decision sciences, and later switched majors to biology. "I want to use my business skills in science, in a field that I love, so I was pleased to find a graduate program that marries business and science," Bowers said.

The two-year program integrates rigorous scientific coursework with training in management, organizational behavior, communication and ethics, and culminates with a year-long research internship, usually in industry settings. Students can specialize in either biotechnology or stem cell science.

"The program will give students a broad knowledge of business as well as a deep scientific understanding," said program director and Professor of Biology Lily Chen. "The goal is to train graduates that will keep the Bay Area and the nation at the forefront of the biotech sector."

Industry leaders, who have helped guide the curriculum, believe the program addresses a critical need. "In industry, there is often a dichotomy between those who have been trained in the sciences and those who haven't. We need to bridge that divide," said John Sninsky, vice-president of research at Celera Corporation, an Alameda-based biotech company. "This program will contribute skilled workers who can help translate science from the bench to the bedside."

SF State's professional science master's program (PSM) received $700,000 from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, via the National Science Foundation, to fund student fellowships. SF State is one of three CSU campuses that received NSF funding to establish new innovative science masters programs. For more information, see: http://www.calstate.edu/pa/News/2010/release/nsf-grants.shtml
For more information about SF State's professional science master's program, visit: http://www.sfsu.edu/~psm/

-- Elaine Bible


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