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Biotechnology Students Highlight Research at Annual Symposium

biotech symposium

After months of research, students in the Johns Hopkins University Center for Biotechnology Education explained their discoveries to a receptive group of other students, professors and industry professionals.

The 11th Annual Research Symposium, held at the Montgomery County Campus, was an evening of networking, poster presentations and speakers, including keynote remarks from Kenneth Ramos. Ramos is associate vice president of precision health sciences at the Arizona Health Sciences Center and a professor of medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson in the Department of Medicine, Division of Pulmonary, Sleep and Critical Care Medicine.

Participants in the poster session included:


  • National Cancer Institute fellows in the Molecular Targets and Drug Discovery Technologies concentration of the Master of Science in Biotechnology degree program;
  • Students who have completed research projects in bioscience and bioinformatics as part of their requirements for the Master of Science in Biotechnology, Bioinformatics and Bioscience Regulatory Affairs degrees and;
  • High school students from Montgomery County Public Schools, presenting their research posters from their internships.


In all, 21 students participated. Their research focused on topics including genetics, acute lymphoblastic leukemia, prostate cancer, bioinformatics, binge eating disorders, HIV infections, head and neck squamous cell carcinoma, water and sanitation, and inner ear development.

Margaret VanHeusen is pursuing a master’s in biotechnology with a concentration in regulatory affairs/ science. She plans to complete a fellowship with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration this summer. Her project was titled “Differences in Project Management Tool Utilization Between the Pharmaceutical and Non-Pharmaceutical Industries.” VanHeusen’s project was based on regulatory science and looked at project management practices in the pharmaceutical industry, where pressure to develop drugs faster and at lower costs means development teams must function with maximum efficiency.

Doing the project, she said, “helped me learn more about the importance of understanding how different components of health care and medicine intersect. The idea that changing these practices would not just impact one or two diseases but could help improve practices in the pharmaceutical industry in general was something I find incredibly gratifying. The independent research project process was wonderful. It pushes you outside of your comfort zone in many aspects and with the help of your mentor, allows you to grow and develop entirely new sets of skills.”

The research symposium, an opportunity for the Center for Biotechnology Education to showcase its strengths in the area of biotechnology and research, began as part of a partnership between Johns Hopkins and the National Cancer Institute. Each year NCI supports three to five master’s degree students in the molecular targets and drug discovery technologies concentration.

CATEGORY: Academics, Research