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JHU MS in Biotechnology/MBA Students Are On the Case…

JHU Case Competition Team

L-to-R: Auerbach, Poore, Ahmed, Morken, and Pietras. Photo: G. Allen Aycock


Five Johns Hopkins University students in the MS in Biotechnology/MBA program recently received an honorable mention at Wake Forest University’s 3rd Annual Biotechnology Conference and Case Competition. For the competition, students had to prepare a response to a case that was strategically focused around the case competition sponsor, Johnson & Johnson.

Mario Morken, Julie Poore, David Auerbach, Matthew Pietras, and Ray Ahmed competed for Johns Hopkins and received recognition for providing the “Most Integrated Solution.”

“We are so proud of how the JHU team did this year,” said Lynn Johnson Langer, PhD, MBA, Director, Enterprise and Regulatory Affairs Programs, JHU Center for Biotechnology Education. “The competition was strong, and we can’t imagine a better recognition for our team than that of having the most integrated solution.

“It is having students like these that make my job so rewarding,” Langer said.

The JHU team was unique to the competition in that it was one of the few teams comprised of part-time graduate students. Morken said he felt like the fact that he and his teammates all worked in different fields by day was one of the team's strengths.

Morken is an NIH biologist involved in genetic research. Poore is experienced with regulatory matters. Ahmed works in marketing. Auerbach is skilled in strategy. And as a CPA, Pietras brought a strong accounting skillset to the team.

“We were probably the most diverse and well-rounded team in the competition,” he said. “That’s something that is unique to the Hopkins MS/MBA program.”

JHU faculty emphasized the incredible time commitment required of the students who choose to compete, a sentiment echoed by the team members themselves and one that is evident in the team’s schedule the week before the competition.

The Wednesday before the case, the team met at the JHU Montgomery County Campus from 5-10 p.m., then went home and continued working over Google Chat, finalizing talking points and slides. Auerbach and Pietras stayed up until 4 a.m. finishing their respective sections, and Morken stayed home from work on Thursday to integrate the various sections of the presentation.

“Most of the teammates were familiar with the difficult week-long schedule from our last event at the Northwestern Kellogg Biotech Case Competition in January of 2011,” Auerbach said.

He added that having gone through the Northwestern case last year, he felt they were better prepared to represent Hopkins in this year’s competition.

“The week leading up to the case is difficult, but it is one of the most rewarding experiences that I have had in graduate school or in my career,” Morken said. “The amount that we have learned is hard to quantify, and the insight and skills that are developed can’t be learned in the classroom.

“I am extremely proud of everyone and our performance amongst outstanding competition,” he added. “By performing well this year we hope that it will encourage other teams to participate in future years and continue to represent our program and Johns Hopkins.”  

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