Simone Ridgeway PictureSimone Ridgeway’s father was diagnosed with Type II Diabetes shortly after he was honorably discharged from the military. Inspired by her father’s struggle, Ridgeway, a graduate student in the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s M.S. in Biotechnology Program, is determined to improve lives by advancing the quality of diabetes healthcare.

Ridgeway earned her B.S. in Chemistry from UAB in 2012. Immediately applying to the M.S. in Biotechnology Program at the School of Health Professions, she says, was a no brainer.

“I chose the Biotechnology Master’s Program because I saw its potential for advancing my career in industry,” she explains. “In today’s time you need to be versatile enough to change with the economy. Having a background in both business and science makes me more competitive for my career in industry.”

Students in UAB’s M.S. in Biotechnology Program, housed within SHP’s Department of Clinical and Diagnostic Sciences, learn the principles of both science and business that are necessary for them to succeed in technology and product development. The curriculum allows students to adapt their coursework based on their interests, ranging anywhere from drug development to regulatory affairs, technology transfer, or marketing.

“One highlight of the program is the opportunity to do a science and business-related internship,” Ridgeway says. “I chose to intern with the American Diabetes Association (ADA). What better way to understand the impact of diabetes than through a philanthropic organization whose mission is to prevent, cure, and improve the lives of all people affected by the disease?”

As a Programs Intern with the ADA, Ridgeway helped raise over $1,000 through the organization's annual Tour de Cure fundraising event. She was honored as a "Champion to Stop Diabetes" for her contributions to the event. She has also received an American Heart Association Fellowship, an award which allows her to work on diabetes-related research inside the lab of Dr. Eugenia Kharlampieva. She also works as a teaching assistant in UAB’s Department of Nutrition Sciences.

Ridgeway helped develop the Biotechnology Student Association (BTSA)—a new organization that promotes academic achievement, networking, and community service among UAB Biotechnology students. "BTSA is open to all students who want to learn about biotechnology and what the field has to offer," she explains. "Students can contact Dr. Carol Robbins at to learn more."

“I could not have fully pursued my passion if it were not for the structure of the biotechnology program,” Ridgeway says. “I was asked questions that awakened the entrepreneurial side of me, and I have also gained invaluable and transferrable skills within the laboratory. Because of this balance of knowledge between science and business, the career opportunities are endless.”

In fact, Ridgeway already has a post-grad job lined up. She will be working as a Senior Scientist in the Parental Products Technical Services/Manufacturing Sciences supporting Diabetes Care at Eli Lilly Pharmaceuticals in Indianapolis, Indiana.

“My knowledge regarding diabetes has substantially increased because of my activities,” she says. “The Biotechnology program has given me a background knowledge of scientific principle, entrepreneurial skills, and a connection with the community that will make me a well-rounded and knowledgeable professional in my field of study.”