Biotechnology program approved by trustees as a master’s degree

UAB’s biotechnology program is now offered as a stand-alone master’s degree, another step in building a strong biotech industry in Alabama.

The University of Alabama System Board of Trustees approved the biotechnology program as a stand-alone master’s degree at the University of Alabama at Birmingham during its meeting June 15, 2012. The program, in the School of Health Professions, has been a certificate option in Clinical Laboratory Sciences since 2009.

biotech_story“The growth and development of this program into a stand-alone master’s degree is an important step in helping to create a vibrant and sustainable biotechnology industry statewide,” said Janelle Chiasera, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Clinical and Diagnostic Sciences.   

The biotechnology program provides students with the training necessary to be a part of the industry’s specialized workforce with a strong knowledge base in science, technology and research and industry-specific entrepreneurial skills that can translate scientific discovery into commercial products.

Kathy Nugent, Ph.D., director of the program, said there is a need in the workforce for this type of training to prepare and meet the community’s most pressing challenges in human and environmental health.

“Today’s biotechnology companies have matured to the point that there is a growing need in the workplace for employees specifically trained for this industry,” said Nugent. “This program is therefore comprised of an innovative new curriculum and training models that will prepare students to meet the demands of a successful career in the biotechnology field. We are very excited that the future of biotechnology in Alabama and beyond will be in part shaped by our graduates.”

Nugent is also president of BioAlabama, a statewide organization representing Alabama’s bio related industries, research scientists, clinicians and business professionals who are working together to foster, develop and support the life sciences in Alabama. The UAB program partners with key constituents such as the UAB Research Foundation and HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology in Huntsville, Ala., to give students the opportunity to work on real projects.