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Entrepreneurial Biotechnology Curriculum

Plan A (Thesis)


All candidates must complete a total of 30 credit hours in course work at the 300 level or higher. At least 18 of these credit hours must be at the 400 levels or above. Further, at least 15 credit hours must be in courses offered by the Biology Department (“Technical Electives”). The remaining course work may include courses offered by any department within the University, subject to the advisor’s approval and School of Graduate Studies regulations (“Restricted Electives”). Note that if a Restricted Elective course is outside of the College of Arts and Sciences, the student must seek additional approval from the Director of the Science & Technology Entrepreneurship Programs. International students must successfully complete an approved writing course such as ENGL 180 or ENGL 186 as an additional requirement.

Semester 1:

BIOL 491 Contemporary Biology and Biotechnology for Innovation 1 (3 credit hours)

LAWS 5341 Commercialization and Intellectual Property Management (3 credit hours)

400-Level BIOL Course or Approved Restricted Elective (3 hours)

Semester 2:

BIOL 492 Contemporary Biology and Biotechnology for Innovation 2 (3 credit hours)

LAWS 5366 Venture Finance & Transactions (2 credit hours)

400-Level BIOL Course or Approved Restricted Elective (3 hours)

BIOL 651 Thesis M.S. or 1 Cr. Restricted Elective such as Bioinformatics (SYBB 411) (1 credit hour)

Semester 3/4:

400-Level BIOL Course or Approved Restricted Elective (3 hours)

BIOL 651 Thesis M.S. (Must have a total of 6-9 credit hours.)

 

 

COURSE DESCRIPTIONS

BIOL 491: Contemporary Biology and Biotechnology for Innovation 1

The first half of a two-semester sequence providing an understanding of biology as a basis for successfully launching new high- tech ventures. The course will examine physical limitations to present technologies, and the use of biology to identify potential opportunities for new venture creation. The course will provide experience in using biology for both identification of incremental improvements, and as the basis for alternative technologies. Case studies will be used to illustrate recent commercially successful (and unsuccessful) biotechnology-based venture creation, and will illustrate characteristics for success. Admission to this course requires consent of the instructor.

The purpose of the course is to provide an understanding of contemporary biology and biotechnology as a basis for successfully launching new high- tech ventures. The course will examine technical bases and limitations to present technologies, and the potential applications of extending existing technologies or developing novel methodologies for new venture creation. The course will provide experience in using all aspects of the natural sciences (physics, chemistry and biology) and relevant engineering approaches for both identification of incremental improvements and as the basis for alternative technologies. Case studies will be used to illustrate recent commercially successful (and unsuccessful) biotechnology-based venture creation, and will illustrate characteristics for success.

In order to provide maximum flexibility for the target audience (the students in the new Entrepreneurship Track of the existing Master of Science in Biology Degree), the course is expected to be taught at night, and to meet once a week. Class time will include both formal lectures on the theory and implementation of contemporary methods in biotechnology, as well as weekly discussion of case studies. Experience in the application of molecular biological methods to the solution of problems will be provided through weekly problem sets. Guest speakers with particular expertise will be used where appropriate.

This course will provide an exposure to and good understanding of current methods (both laboratory and industrial scale) and their applications in the biotechnology arena. It is anticipated that this class (BIOL 491) will focus primarily on providing a good understanding of a set of core methodologies while the second course will emphasize applications and explore a broad range of possible areas that should extend beyond the current realm of biotechnology.

Review of biology, molecular biology and biotechnology principles and techniques relevant to problems of high tech innovation. These will be developed throughout the semester, and will include (but not be limited to):

  • Current DNA sequencing technologies – theory, practice, instrumentation, limitations
  • Methods for detection and analysis of variation without sequencing
  • High throughput methods, including automation and robotics
  • nucleic acid microarrays, protein microarrays, protein-protein interaction studies, protein-ligand interactions, antibodies.
  • Proteonomics; various forms of mass spectrometry Computer-aided design of both large and small molecules
  • Fluorescence techniques
  • Combinatorial chemistry
  • Atomic force microscopy
  • Nanotechnology (perhaps join with physics)
  • Industrial bio-production – cells, proteins, antibiotics etc (with Chem. Eng)
  • Transgenics – cell, tissues, plants, animals.
  • Data management, data analysis, data mining. Review of existing world centers in bioinformatics, the types of data that they contain and the services that they offer. Examination of emerging trends in the types of data being generated, the way it is managed and possibilities for new directions.

____________

Contemporary Biology and Biotechnology for Innovation 2

Continuation of BIOL 491, with an emphasis on current and prospective opportunities for Biotechnology Entrepreneurship. Longer term opportunities for Biotechnology Entrepreneurship in emerging areas, including (but not be limited to) applications of DNA sequence information in medicine and agriculture; energy and the environment; biologically-inspired robots; Prerequisite: BIOL 491.

The purpose of the course is to explore the ways in which biology-based developments and inventions can impact society and thus provide an intellectual basis for successfully launching new high-tech ventures. The course will continue the themes of BIOL 491, but with an emphasis shifting from core methodologies and existing applications to extended or novel methodologies and new problems and applications.

In order to provide maximum flexibility for the target audience (the students in the new Entrepreneurship Track of the existing Master of Science in Biology Degree), the course will be taught at night, and will meet once a week. Class time will include both formal lectures on the biology content, as well as weekly discussion of case studies. Experience in the application of biology to the solution of problems will be provided through weekly problem sets. Guest speakers with particular expertise will be used where appropriate.

BIOL 492 will continue the integrated presentation of the themes introduced in BIOL 491, but with an emphasis on current and near-term opportunities for Biotechnology Entrepreneurship. In addition, longer-term opportunities for Biotechnology Entrepreneurship in emerging areas will be reviewed. These will include (but not be limited to):

  • Patents: what has worked in the past (Chakrabarty, Stanford Cloning, PCR, the Harvard Mouse, Recombinant Enzymes, Sequencing and Microarray Technologies).
  • The changing face of biological patents – shifts at the Patent Office.
  • Regulatory Issues
  • For human-targeted products, the role of the FDA and the time-scale of bringing products to market. For ag-bio products, not only USDA/FDA issues, but also the GMO debate.
  • Scope of Biotechnology
  • Whole genomes: – for every biological process in humans, mice, flies, Arabidopsis, yeast and some other fungi, many microbes – we now know the sequence (in principle) of every gene controlling every process. Most of the recent developments (and enterprises have been based either on applications of this kind of information or the development or refinement of appropriate enabling technologies (sequencing machines, microarray synthesizers and printers, Mass Spectrometers, etc)
  • Biotech medicine asks, “How can we use this information to derive therapeutic proteins, develop better diagnostic tools, provide more specific cures for disease etc.”
  • Biotech agriculture asks similar questions about the quality, safety, production efficiency etc of our food supply.
  • What about some quite different applications simply inspired by a deeper understating of biological phenomena:
  • Insect inspired robots
  • Energy production: what are the biological models
  • Conservation and Remediation of the Environment
  • Learning
  • Nanotechnology – targeted medicines, DNA computers,
  • Materials: many natural materials have superior properties to any synthetic mimic – what can we learn from biology to make stronger, lighter, etc materials in energy-efficient ways – polymers, adhesives, plastics, …

_____________

Thesis (“Plan A”)

The Entrepreneurial Biotechnology Program Plan A requires students to write a thesis in order to graduate with a Master of Science in Biology, Entrepreneurship Track. The thesis must be based on a project of significant time investment on the part of the student and must be grounded in the real world (e.g., not an hypothetical exercise). Thus, each EB student is required to work as an intern, employee, or entrepreneur, typically with a start-up, existing company, early-stage investment firm, or an affiliate of a research organization. The duration of this work must be at least one academic year, with one semester typically reserved for work entirely outside of the classroom (usually the fourth and final semester). 

The candidate’s thesis efforts will be monitored by the candidate’s thesis advisor via the course BIOL 651 (Thesis). Candidates must successfully complete a minimum of 6 credit hours and a maximum of 9 credit hours of BIOL 651. Once a candidate registers for BIOL 651, the registration must continue for a minimum of 1 credit per semester until completion of the degree program.

The thesis must contain robust science/technology and commercialization sections. Otherwise there are no specific requirements for content, however all theses must be written under supervision of a thesis adviser.

An oral examination (defense) of the master’s thesis is required. This examination is conducted by a committee of at least three members of the university faculty, and includes a general oral examination of topics that have been agreed-upon by the committee in discussions with the student. The candidate’s Thesis Advisor customarily serves as the chair of the examining committee. The other members of the committee are appointed by the Faculty Director of the EB program. The examining committee must agree unanimously that the candidate has passed the thesis examination. When the research relates to proprietary material, the student and Advisor are responsible for making preliminary disclosures to the sponsor sufficiently in advance to permit timely release of the thesis, and these plans should be disclosed when the thesis is submitted to the School of Graduate Studies.

Internships

STEP students are encouraged to begin their internship or job search as early as possible in order to avoid time constraints and potential market uncertainties. Students typically start internships in the spring semester. Because of the nature of start-ups and technology commercialization, a student’s internship may consist of several projects with different organizations, some lasting as little as a few weeks. However, internships that last 9 or more months are most desirable in order to develop meaningful relationships with mentors and industry players.

Internship Pay

STEP students, by United States labor law, must be paid for all work that is done unless it can be shown that “the employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the trainees, and on occasion the employer’s operations may actually be impeded (TRAINING AND EMPLOYMENT GUIDANCE LETTER NO. 12-09).Students are paid for their work through various methods, such as direct pay from the sponsor, research grant, or economic development grant (i.e., Third Frontier Internship Program). Other arrangement such as equity and intellectual property may be negotiated on a case-by-case basis, within applicable laws.

Page last modified: February 18, 2017