Biotech Enterprise Students to Consult for MedImmune
Johns Hopkins University and MedImmune, one of the largest biotechnology companies in the region, have teamed up for an innovative, $6.5 million research collaboration, and eight students in the Master’s in Biotechnology Enterprise and Entrepreneurship practicum are directly involved. They will be doing their practicum projects with MedImmune.
“The partnership between JHU and MedImmune is a wonderful opportunity for MBEE students to gain real-world experience,” said Lynn Johnson Langer, director, Enterprise & Regulatory Science Programs for the university’s Center for Biotechnology Education. “Their work will be highly valuable to the company, and a great learning experience for the students. Truly a win-win.”
In December, Johns Hopkins University and MedImmune announced the five-year, $6.5 million research collaboration. Each organization is contributing funding, personnel and materials to address important scientific questions and exchange knowledge through joint research efforts. Research will focus on oncology; respiratory, inflammation and autoimmunity; infectious disease; and antibody discovery and protein engineering.
A kick-off celebration was held in February at MedImmune’s headquarters in Gaithersburg. Johns Hopkins University President Ronald J. Daniels attended with Dr. Paul Rothman, dean of medical faculty, vice president for medicine of Johns Hopkins University and chief executive of Johns Hopkins Medicine; Langer; and Kris Obom, director of the Center for Biotechnology Education and director for the Master of Science in Bioinformatics and for the Master of Science in Biotechnology program.
Three Montgomery County Campus students in the MBEE program also attended. Students Sarah Long, Salim Munoz and Wei-chin Hsu toured MedImmune’s labs, saw DNA sequencing machines and microscopes, and got a glimpse into how MedImmune performs quality assurance checks of its vaccines.
“How they apply the science – that was cool for us,” Long said.
Langer added: “The opportunity to tour the MedImmune facility gave the students a chance to see the integration of all the components of biopharmaceuticals, from research to development and production.”
The eight students will act as consultants for MedImmune during this semester-long project. They are divided into two groups of four.
One group will look at trends that will affect AstraZeneca in the future, such as the aging population, emerging global markets and the mandates of the Affordable Care Act. MedImmune is the global biologics research and development arm of AstraZeneca.
The other group will look at ways to accelerate clinical trials start ups.
“This is a very unique opportunity to work with a top global pharmaceutical company,” Hsu said. “It is an opportunity to have an interaction internally with the people of the company.”
Three of the students are based in Montgomery County and have taken the majority of their coursework at the Montgomery County Campus. The other five, including Mema Bamba and Kimberly LaPointe, are doing their coursework online and will work on the practicums via teleconferencing and email.
“It’s a real-world experience,” Munoz said.
The Practicum in Biotechnology Enterprise and Entrepreneurship course is taught by Langer’s husband, Eric Langer, who is president and managing partner of BioPlan Associates. It is also taught by Ted Maker, principal, Life Science Consulting.
“I hope the students learn to appreciate the challenges in applying the knowledge and skill they’ve gained from the program to a real-world business issue,” Maker said. “Based on early feedback, they are.”