Georgetown Biotechnology Welcomes a Newly Designated Track with Specialization in Cell and Gene Therapy
The Master of Science in Biotechnology Program (MS in Biotechnology) is a 30-credit master’s program with an emphasis on preparing students for the current needs of the biotechnology industry. Students are introduced to this broad field through a variety of courses in combination with a capstone internship and the ability for students to focus on the areas of biotechnology for which they have a passion. This unique program offers students the ability to select from seven track options to tailor the curriculum to their interests and future goals. Current track options include BioBusiness, BioScience, Drug Design and Discovery, Entrepreneurship, Industrial Sciences, an Individualized Track, and the newest track Cell and Gene Therapy.
The Cell and Gene Therapy Track (C >) was introduced in the Fall of 2022 and places specific emphasis on this new and exciting field. Through varied coursework in science, business, and specific electives, students will learn about the important shift to more targeted approaches that cell and gene therapy plays for the future of treatments for rare or hard-to-treat diseases. Coursework places an emphasis on genetics, immunobiology and regulatory aspects that are required within this developing field. Professors and adjunct faculty with expertise in these areas include industry experts from the scientific, business and pharmaceutical development approaches. As with all tracks, students will also complete an internship of their choosing to further explore their interest within the field of biotechnology.
In May 2023, the inaugural members of the C> track completed their MS degrees and have gone on to work within this burgeoning field. We invite you to explore some of our recent graduates and also meet one of our newest C> track students below.
The first cohort of C> track students entered the Program in the Fall semester of 2022. Navtej Singh was a member of this inaugural class and one of its first graduates. He chose the Georgetown Biotechnology Program specifically as he was interested in opportunities the program gave to explore both science and business and he was impressed by the depth of knowledge the program would offer in just one year. Navtej specifically chose the C> as it focuses on new technologies aiming to cure diseases, rather than just treating them. He saw this as a shift away from the prototypical small-molecule drug approach. He found himself drawn to this new approach in medicine as it could offer hope for lasting solutions. Navtej stated that courses such as, “Cell and Gene Therapy Strategies” was an insightful overview of the field. Navtej works as a research assistant at Lombardi Cancer Center within Doctor Khleif’s Immunology and Immuno-Oncology Laboratory. He is working on a project aimed at reversing resistance to checkpoint blockade therapy, which could be a promising future cancer treatment. He is also in the process of applying to medical school. Navtej notes it is important to take advantage of all networking opportunities and to actively engage with the diverse Georgetown community and alumni network. He advises current and or prospective students to stay informed about the current happenings of the Biotechnology industry through publications or by joining professional associations. Lastly, he echoes the Biotechnology Program administrator’s advice to not get too overwhelmed with courses and the workload; it is just as important to have fun and take time to enjoy the learning process throughout your time in the Program.
Fernando received his Master’s in Biotechnology (C> Track) from Georgetown University in 2023. Originally from Spain, Fernando picked Georgetown Biotechnology because of his undergraduate background in the field and the well-established history of the program, among other personal reasons. Fernando recognized the future utility of cell and gene therapy innovations, and this led to his decision to pursue this track, and the engaging courses are what kept him interested and motivated. After realizing academia wasn’t the only thing out there for him, Fernando gained an affinity for the business side of the biotechnology industry. Fernando currently works at Cytel CRO in a business development role and says he loves working at the intersection of business and science and will likely continue down this path. When asked about advice for someone currently in the program, Fernando had a lot of valuable insight to share, including networking and utilizing the many resources available in the program, specifically the guidance of Professor Dr. Ivica Labuda and Professor Khuyen Mai when trying to find the right path for you. He also highlighted the value of maintaining a healthy balance between school and life outside the program.
Kingsley is a first-semester student in the Biotechnology Program, concentrating in C>. Kingsley received his undergraduate degree in Biomedical Laboratory Diagnostics from Michigan State University. Following his graduation from MSU, he continued working full-time in a clinical laboratory. There he realized he wanted to explore what the biotechnology field had to offer beyond the bench. Kingsley shared that even during his undergraduate tenure he was fascinated by technologies like CRISPR/Cas9 and wanted to learn more about this incredibly relevant and fast-growing field. Georgetown and the C> track aligned well with the path he was looking to take. The program would allow him to remain focused on his passion for science while also learning the business aspects of biotechnology. Kingsley is looking forward to his internship in the spring and taking biotechnology business classes that will make him a more “versatile” asset in the workforce.
Opportunities Abound in GU’s Biotechnology Program:
Thankfully for students in the Georgetown MS in Biotechnology program, there are a plethora of biotechnology-related opportunities to partake in both on campus and in the greater Washington, DC, Maryland, Virginia (DMV) area. A mandatory internship and a hands-on lab course are very valuable experiences and our alumni have reached back to us and thanked us for the opportunities to gain these beneficial and dynamic skillsets while in the Biotechnology Program. Resources are everywhere and all you have to do is ask. Networking opportunities are also very prevalent and may be considered the most valuable part of someone’s time in the program.
Written by: Kayla McEachern, Olivia Atkins, Kingsley Amadi (MS candidates)
Contributions from: Navtej Singh, MS; Fernando Andres-Martin, MS; and Kingsley Amadi (MS candidate)
Edits by: Kyle DiVito, PhD