First NSF biotech fellows secure industry jobs
The first students from the University's professional science master's (PSM) graduated this semester and are already contributing to the Bay Area's thriving life sciences scene.
Launched in fall 2010, the PSM includes courses in science and business and allows students to specialize in either biotechnology or stem cell science. An industry-based internship gives students experience conducting applied research in the private sector rather than in a university-based lab.
Three students from the program's first cohort completed their studies and are working at local biotech companies, helping develop cutting-edge treatments for such conditions as diabetes, stroke and cancer.
SF State established the PSM fellowship program with a $700,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), which allowed these three graduates to focus on their studies, take part in unpaid internships and advance quickly through the course.
Casey Haynes completed an internship at a startup that is developing treatments for diabetes patients, using adult stem cells to help slow vision loss by repairing damaged blood vessels in the eye.
"It was satisfying for me to be able to get directly into industry through the internship and to do an applied research project for the company," said Haynes, who was hired full time by BetaStem Therapeutics when her internship concluded.
"I think the PSM program put me a step ahead of others who have graduated with a regular master's degree in science," Haynes said. She splits her time between scientific research and the business side, conducting experiments in the lab as well as networking with donors and investors.
Samantha Kubeck came straight to the PSM program from University of California, Davis where she majored in biotechnology.
"Because I was a science major, I'd never taken business courses before, so these were useful," she said. "Financial accounting was the best. Whatever position you go into in biotech, you need to have an awareness of how your work fits into the business plan."
This fall Kubeck was hired as a clinical research associate at Nodality, a company that is developing a tool to help physicians predict how well cancer patients will respond to different treatments.
Almost immediately after joining the PSM program last fall, Adam Harvey secured an internship at the biotech company SanBio in Mountain View where he continues to work as a paid researcher. The company has developed a therapy that uses adult stem cells to help people who have suffered from an ischemic stroke. "We're in the middle of clinical trials right now," Harvey said. "It's very ground breaking and very exciting."
"The goal is to increase the pool of trained professionals who can keep up with developments in the life sciences industry," said Lily Chen, professor of biology, who directs the program.
-- Elaine Bible