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TruBios Helps Fill Education Gap

Salim Munoz already has a medical degree. Educated in Mexico, he could be focusing on his specialty: neurosurgery.

Salim MunozInstead, he packed his bags and headed to Johns Hopkins University in Montgomery County. Munoz is a student in Hopkins’ Center for Biotechnology Education, working on a Master’s in Biotechnology, Enterprise and Entrepreneurship. Munoz was recruited here by someone who knows both Mexico and Johns Hopkins, Roberto Trujillo, president and chief executive of TruBios. TruBios is a biotechnology services company focused on offering clinical research and commercialization solutions to Latin American countries.

Trujillo hired Munoz as an intern during his studies here.

When Munoz finishes his coursework, he plans to return to Mexico, sharing what he learned at Johns Hopkins and at TruBios, which is located on campus.

Both Trujillo and Munoz recognize their native Mexico lacks the leaders needed to advance in biotechnology.

“We don’t have this kind of opportunity, this kind of training, in Mexico,” said Munoz, 28. “I believe Johns Hopkins has the best program and is located in the best place to do biotechnology.”

Munoz’s story is an example of the synergy between the academic centers at The Johns Hopkins Montgomery County Campus and the biotechnology companies that lease space here and call Johns Hopkins their home.  

Trujillo is fostering a conversation between the Mexican government and Johns Hopkins University to offer scholarships to students in the Biotechnology, Enterprise and Entrepreneurship program (students in other Center for Biotechnology Program paths might also be eligible). If all of the legal provisions work out, Munoz would be the first to receive the scholarship, offered through Mexico’s National Council for Science and Technology, or CONACyT.

Offering scholarships, Trujillo said, “is something great the country is doing. They are investing in their leaders.” Students who return to Mexico upon completing their studies will have the skills they need to build research centers where they can practice and to bring products to market more rapidly. Doctor Roberto Trujillo

The Master’s in Biotechnology, Enterprise and Entrepreneurship program at Johns Hopkins is in its infancy, with its first students starting last spring. The program was developed to fill a gap in the market for understanding how to create and run successful biotech corporations, said Lynn Johnson Langer, director of enterprise and regulatory programs for the Center for Biotechnology Education.

Every course offered through the program is specific to biotechnology.

“One of the criticisms of biotechnology is it is so slow,” Johnson Langer said. “It takes a long time to get from research to commercialization. As new discoveries are made, there is a high requirement for people who know how to go quickly to commercialization.”

That need is even more acute in Latin America. Johnson Langer and Trujillo expect students such as Munoz to fill that gap.

Munoz said he is up to the challenge.

“By learning and studying here, I can apply that knowledge to my country,” Munoz said. “We can develop new science and develop new treatments for our people.”

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