Thursday, 26 March 2015

Innovative Minds Who Will Make a Difference

Dr. Shelly Schuster, President, Keck Graduate Institute
As we celebrate completing the inaugural session of the Biocon Academy-KGI certificate program, I am reflecting on this time last year, when we were beginning to consider developing it. In fall 2000, Keck Graduate Institute (KGI), located in Claremont, California, enrolled its first students for a two year master’s program to educate scientists and engineers to help translate basic scientific discoveries into practical applications that will improve people’s lives. KGI was the first program of its kind and was based on the recognition that there were no programs dedicated to bridging the gap between business and science in the life sciences. Now, we are one (the best one!) of over 300 similar “Professional Science Masters” (PSM) programs in the United States. As we developed the curriculum, we embraced the knowledge that the life sciences comprise a global industry that impacts the entire world. So, with the emergence of the biotechnology sector in India, it is not a surprise that almost a third of our students in California come from India.

As we grew and talked with KGI Trustees about how to spread the positive impact of a KGI education more broadly, several spoke of Biocon CEO Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, who recognizes that Indian biotech companies have the same needs for business-trained science graduates as U.S. life science industries do, and that they also were experiencing the same gap in training that KGI was formed to address. She had the wisdom to see that she could begin to contribute to the development of professionals who would better serve her company and others in India by partnering with KGI, starting with a one-semester program covering important concepts in bioprocessing and clinical and regulatory affairs that impact the industry. Out of a highly selective process, 30 pioneer students were chosen and have now completed this innovative certificate program.

I have examined the curriculum and talked with faculty about their experience in teaching the courses remotely from California.  Uniformly, they are all excited that the program has gone so well. There were a few technical glitches that needed fixing, but overall, the learning was deep and the growth and increase in professionalism was profound. I trust that you graduates will put your learning to good use and will continue to evolve as you bring your talents and passion to the industry. Most importantly, encourage others to follow in your footsteps. There is plenty of room in the industry for knowledgeable professionals in the U.S., India, and around the globe!

Congratulations, and welcome to this industry. Through it, you truly have the power to make the world a better place!

by Dr. Shelly Schuster, President, Keck Graduate Institute