Mexican Biotech Students Find Home at JHU Montgomery County Campus, TruBios
Juan Montesinos is a doctor who has a passion for mobile and web applications.
Daniel Gil Castillejo is an electronics engineer proficient in the technical aspects of software.
Both moved from Mexico to Rockville in August to pursue their graduate degrees at Johns Hopkins University’s Montgomery County Campus, where they are studying in the Master’s in Biotechnology, Enterprise and Entrepreneurship program. They both are on full scholarships from the Mexican government and supplementing their coursework with internships at TruBios, a biotechnology services company located on the JHU Montgomery County Campus. TruBios is led by Roberto Trujillo, a native of Mexico who teaches in JHU’s biotechnology program.
The story of Montesinos and Gil Castillejo is an example of the synergy between the academics at the Johns Hopkins Montgomery County Campus and the companies that lease space here.
“I want to have the opportunity to apply what I just learned,” Montesinos said. “One thing is learning the theory, and another thing is actually doing it.”
Montesinos, 30, completed medical school in Mexico and soon after started a surgery residency. After six months in the program, he decided he was more interested in the business side of the health care industry than the medical side. He left the residency program to focus on creating a start-up company that created mobile and web apps for electronic health records. After three years, he sold his stock to one of his associates and contemplated his next steps.
He had recalled talking to his friend and neighbor, Salim Munoz, about Munoz’s plan to go to JHU to study in the MBEE program and to intern at TruBios. At the time of that conversation, Montesinos wasn’t interested. But after leaving the start-up, he reconsidered.
Montesinos then had a meeting in Mexico with Trujillo, president and chief executive of TruBios. That discussion led to Montesinos consulting for TruBios, doing web, information technology work and technological analysis. Trujillo encouraged Montesinos to come to the campus to meet with Lynn Johnson Langer and Kay Wellman.
Langer is director of the Enterprise and Regulatory Science Programs at the Johns Hopkins Center for Biotechnology Education; Wellman is coordinator of the Biotechnology Enterprise programs.
Montesinos was intrigued, applied to the program and was accepted.
His classmate, friend and roommate, Gil Castillejo, studied computer science and electronics engineering in college in Mexico. He worked in the electronics field for several years, including at a federal lab and research center in Mexico.
Gil Castillejo started a medical software consulting business with his father. They developed software for electronic medical records but want to know more about how to commercialize their product.
His father went to a conference in Mexico City to do a presentation about electronic medical records. At that event, his father met Trujillo, who told his son about the MBEE program at JHU and about TruBios, which focuses on offering clinical research and commercialization solutions to Latin American countries.
“I was very interested in the program and I decided I wanted to apply,” Gil Castillejo said. Gil Castillejo and Montesinos met each other in Mexico as they were going through the scholarship application process.
For both Gil Castillejo and Montesinos, the MBEE program is their first experience living outside of Mexico.
They both look forward to the MBEE program teaching them how to bring technology to market. They look forward to bringing the lessons they learn in the classroom to practice at TruBios.
“If you don’t know how to sell it, it’s useless,” Gil Castillejo said. “I hope to learn how the real world works in the biotech environment and how to bring a product to the market and to help people that really need it the most.”