Science Master’s Program in Translational Biotechnology at The University of Florida

Overview

Through NSF funding we have established a new Masters Program called “Science Master’s Program in Translational Biotechnology.” It is a two-year thesis or project-in-lieu of thesis program that is interdisciplinary (biosciences and business), is research intensive, has deep industry involvement, and includes a formal internship at a company. Students will graduate with a major (Master of Science in Medical Sciences) and a minor in business administration (Graduate Business Minor).

The Program is focused on applied and translational research. Translational Biotechnology includes drug/biologics/device product development, manufacturing process development, assay development, toxicology studies, quality systems (quality control and quality assurance), clinical trial support, and regulatory compliance. These activities are essential for testing new drugs/biologics/devices in humans and their subsequent commercialization. Translational Biotechnology activities are foundational for companies, and are increasingly gaining importance in the academic setting where new technologies are being tested in humans prior to entering the commercial sector.

Courses incorporated into this unique Program encompass biotechnology science together with regulatory compliance and best business practices. Graduate courses in product development, regulatory compliance (cGMPs/GTPs/GLPs/GCPs), quality systems (Quality control and Quality Assurance), process development, analytical product testing, and biomanufacturing have not traditionally been included in curricula of major research universities, yet are essential topics for creating scientists and a workforce capable of sustaining translational research and commercialization. Product development of biotechnological or biomedical products including biopharmaceuticals; diagnostic test materials; enzymes, antibodies, and other protein products; transgenic plants and animals; tissue and cellular products, and biomedical implants and devices requires that workers have the knowledge to carefully complete procedures in compliance with foreign and domestic regulations. Other features of the program are the infusion of personal and professional skills, ethics, and responsible conduct of research, and international perspectives.

Education and Training

A foundation of the Program is a high-quality research project under the direction of a skilled mentor, with supervision by a committee composed of members of the University’s Graduate Research Faculty. Specialization may be in any of the fields of research being pursued in the College of Medicine or local biotechnology company (in this case a UF faculty member will still mentor the student, and the supervisor at the company will participate on the student’s committee). During the first year of the Program students will enroll in lecture courses and the seminar course, and will begin working in a mentor’s laboratory. The content of the lecture courses will provide a strong foundation in advanced level biology and chemistry that is applied to biotechnology and biomedical product development. Courses are available that bridge basic life sciences and applied research, and these have been brought together with courses in business. Both the seminar series and the lecture courses provide preparation for Master’s research which should be well underway by the end of the second semester. The second year of graduate study for the student is devoted to finishing the required courses and doing research. Students may also enroll in additional courses, according to their interests and backgrounds. Following the four semesters of coursework and research, the students will be placed into internships at Florida-based companies. Students will work together with Steering committee members to review available companies and associated projects, and a match will be made.

Degree Requirements

Completion of the degree will require a total of 48 credit hours with 36 credit hours comprising biomedical coursework, laboratory research, and internship for the major and 12 hours of business coursework for the minor. Students will choose from several courses and course modules available at the COM within the scope of the Program (student course choices will be reviewed by the program coordinator and PI), and for the business courses, students choose six courses (2 credits each) from eight core courses. These courses are taught in seven week blocks. The eight courses are: financial accounting, finance, economics, entrepreneurship, law, marketing, management, and operations. An example of a program of study is shown in the table below, and is not limited to the courses listed.

Example Curriculum (48 total credits)

FALL YEAR 1 (9 cr) SPRING YEAR 1 (9 cr) SUMMER YEAR 1 (6 cr);
GMS 6004 Intro lab (2)

GMS 7194 Seminar (1)

GMS 7093 Intro Transln. Res (2)

GMS 6905 Research (2)

ECP5702 Managerial Economics (2)

GMS 7194 Seminar (1)

GMS 6506 Biol Devel (1)

GMS 6905 Research (3)

MAN 5502: Operations Management(2)

MAR 5806: Methods in Marketing (2)

GMS 6905 Research (3)

MAN 5246: Org Behavior (2)

GMS 5905 Writing (1)

FALL YEAR 2 (9 cr) SPRING YEAR 2 (9 cr) SUMMER YEAR 2 (6 cr)
GMS 6893 Transln. Sci (2)

GMS 7194 Seminar (1)

GMS 6059 Gene Therapy (1)

GMS 6910 Research (3)

ACG 5005: Financial Accounting (2)

GMS 7194 Seminar (1)

GMS 6841 Transln Desgn / Analysis (3)

GMS 6971 Research (3)

FIN 5437: Finance (2)

Internship (3)

STA 6166 Statistics(3)

The biomedical and business courses are brought together to create the curriculum in the table above. In the classroom, students will learn the profiles of major departments/areas (marketing, sales, finance, administration, HR, production, manufacturing support, QC/QA, research and development, regulatory affairs, clinical affairs, etc.), the operations of each, and how they interact with each other and outside organizations. Each key operation will be presented in a collection of learning media (classroom, internet-based, case studies). The curriculum navigates the corporate environment, and business and economic landscape with a focus on markets, sales and marketing, supply chain, price controls, import/export practices, and business operations in the context of, budgets, timelines, available resources, business regulations, communication barriers, finance and accounting, and legal constraints (intellectual property, contracts, etc).

Admissions Process

Applications for the class entering in Fall 2011 will be accepted from January 1 to April 15th. Applications will be reviewed when complete and decisions will be made within 30 days of receipt of complete application.

To enter this program, you should have a solid background in chemistry-including biochemistry, and basic biology. A 3.0 undergraduate GPA is required by The Graduate School, although they will make exceptions to this when there are unusual circumstances. The Graduate School requires you to have a 3.0 GPA and a minimum of 1,000 (the sum of verbal plus quantitative) on the GRE, but competitive students are in the 1,200 range. An appropriate GRE subject exam is also recommended. The institution code is 5812. The department code is 0608. Only the GRE is required to apply to the MS program.

International students whose native language is not English and who have not studied at an institution in the United States or other English-speaking country for one year or longer must have a score of at least 600 on the written version of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), or 250 on the computer version of the exam, or 100 on the internet-based TOEFL The TOEFL exam must hav been taken within the past two (2) years. Exemptions to the TOEFL score requirement are granted per University of Florida policy for English proficiency.

Transcripts, GRE scores, a personal statement, and 3 letters of recommendation are sent to the Department of Molecular Genetics & Microbiology’s administrative office at PO Box 100266. The application is done online at http://www.admissions.ufl.edu/grad/.”

Link to application: http://gradschool.ufl.edu/students/application-and-admission.html

Link to program information: http://idp.med.ufl.edu/about/master-of-science-in-translational-biotechnology/