Faculty Notes

New Master’s Degree Programs Launched

M.S. in Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical Engineering

Newly minted biologists, chemists and chemical engineers interested in a career in the pharmaceutical industry now have a great opportunity to gain the skills they need to succeed with Carnegie Mellon University’s new Master of Science in Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical Engineering (MS-BTPE). The degree, offered jointly by the Departments of Biological Sciences and Chemical Engineering, aims to give students with either an engineering or a biology background the complementary skills they need to pursue research in academic and industrial settings. Through coursework and wet lab experiences, the 18-month master’s program teaches students how to bring biopharmaceutical design to industrial scales and use the tools of synthetic biology to engineer cells to treat diseases.

The coursework and lab work have been developed in close consultation with industry leaders and with the many Carnegie Mellon faculty engaged in research on biomanufacturing and therapeutics. Informed by these industry collaborations, the program responds to a need expressed by both major pharmaceutical and start-up companies for employees who can take what biologists do at small scale in producing customized cells, RNAs and proteins and make scale-up production of these engineering products for diagnostic and treatment purposes.

The program is led by Biological Sciences Professor Jon Minden and Chemical Engineering Professor Jim Schneider.

M.S. in Quantitative Biology and Bioinformatics

The study of biology is undergoing a revolution driven by new technologies that enable scientists to generate extensive amounts of data. For students with degrees in biology, chemistry or related fields who are looking to gain practical computational skills to enter fields requiring them to analyze such vast data sets, look no further. With its newly launched M.S. in Quantitative Biology & Bioinformatics, the Department of Biological Sciences has developed a program that gives students a practical and focused educational experience to prepare them for careers in bioinformatics, data analytics and quantitative biological science.

“We created this program for students who have a basic biology background but want to spend a year to a year-and-a-half gaining data analytic skills and quantitative data analysis skills to build on their biology background and to understand bioinformatics problems,” said DJ Brasier.

The new program aims to provide students with the critical skills that they need to have to succeed right out of the gate in a bioinformatics or data analytics job. The program’s first cohort of students will graduate in December.

The program is led by Brasier, associate teaching professor and assistant department head for graduate affairs, and Yongxin (Leon) Zhao, assistant professor of biological sciences.

■ Amy Pavlak Laird