Aug. 30, 2019

Biomedical technology: The ideal career path mixing science and business

UCalgary students intern with biotech, medical device and biopharmaceutical industries

Reid Collins was one of those kids who grew up with a love of science. Now, as a master's student in the University of Calgary’s Master of Biomedical Technology (MBT) program, he’s learning how to use that passion to potentially improve millions of people’s lives.

The MBT program is a one-year course-based professional degree that takes in around 20 students each year. The Cumming School of Medicine (CSM) program focuses on professional outcomes for its students, who progress as a cohort through two terms of course work, followed by a three-month summer practicum. The MBT can also be completed in combination with the Master of Business Administration at the Haskayne School of Business.

What makes the MBT unique is its blend of science and business education with practical industry experience. Students typically bring a strong background in science to the program, which they develop further in three courses in science alongside 10 courses in business, intellectual property, finance, project management, clinical trials, marketing and more.

  • Photo above: Reid Collins, right, reviews research results with his supervisor, Ken Lebioda, senior vice-president of business and corporate development at Resverlogix. Photo courtesy Reid Collins

For Collins, the MBT is a perfect match to his interests. A Saskatchewanian by birth, Collins spent much of his youth abroad following his father’s career in the agrochemical industry. After years in Germany, France and Australia, Collins’ family returned to Canada and settled in Calgary where he completed a Bachelor of Health Sciences at the CSM.

“From a young age, I was inspired by learning about the power of science to help shape good outcomes for society,” says Collins. “I really wanted to have a career in science and do work that helps people. I also knew that I had to be strategic not to limit my career opportunities. The Master of Biomedical Technology program allows me to combine my science background with business training. That gives me a really effective starting point to pursue my career goals.”

Collins is finding his footing in the biotech industry. He recently completed the practicum component of the program with Resverlogix Corp, a Canadian biotech company headquartered in Calgary, developing a new class of drugs for high-risk vascular patients. The company is currently completing a phase three clinical trial. Collins worked with the company’s Business and Corporate Development team to pursue potential new uses for a drug.

“We are undertaking a large data assessment of clinical trial data, in part to find other potential non-obvious uses for the medication,” says Collins. “I was very fortunate to have an opportunity with a company that is doing really important work on research and development of drugs that could result in new treatment options in neurodegenerative diseases.”

What makes the MBT program successful? In the view of the program’s director, Dr. Janice Braun, PhD, an associate professor in the departments of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and Cell Biology and Anatomy, and a member of the CSM’s Hotchkiss Brain Institute the program is “the perfect combination of student initiative, alumni engagement and industry partnerships. MBT students integrate concepts required for biotechnology-focused careers in both team and individual driven projects. Industry partners provide real-world experiential learning opportunities that help students consolidate the business and science concepts taught in MBT.”

UCalgary MBT students have fulfilled internships with Alberta biotech, medical device and biopharmaceutical startups since 2001.  

The MBT students pictured in this gallery represent the class of 2019. The students will receive their degrees this fall. For inquiries about hiring MBT practicum/internship students contact zali@ucalgary.ca.

The MBT program typically accepts students with undergraduate degrees in biological science, chemistry, health science or a related field. Students interested in applying must have their applications in by spring for the following September. For inquiries regarding applications to the MBT program contact mbtgrad@ucalgary.ca.