Driving intellectual engagement with industry professionals

By Christopher Shen, Faculty – Biosepartion Module at Biocon Academy & Adjunct Professor, KGI

ChristopherShen-big.jpgBiocon Academy serves as a bridge from academia to the biotechnology industry. While many students have a good fundamental scientific foundation from their university education there is a gap in knowing how this science is applied in industry in both the technical and regulatory aspects. As a scientist currently working in the biopharmaceutical industry, it has been a great experience to share the science with students in an applied manner. I teach one of the bioprocessing modules where students learn in detail how biologic drugs are produced and processed to become an injectable drug product. We discuss many aspects of the process, from the science underlying the unit operations to practical considerations in designing and performing them. By the end of the program, students will be able to engage intellectually with industry professionals. This will make them more competitive in the marketplace and give them a head start as they begin their careers. India is one of the fastest growing countries in the world in terms of biopharmaceutical investment. This makes it a very exciting time to be at Biocon Academy and to kick-start one’s career. In the coming years, I fully expect many of Biocon Academy’s students to be leaders in India’s booming life science industry and to shape the way forward for this important field.
Profile: Dr. Shen is currently Scientist at Allergan where he works in microbial process development for biopharmaceutical production. Shen has received his BS with high honors in Bioengineering  from UC Berkeley and has a PhD in Biomedical engineering from the joint program at Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University.

Innovative Minds Who Will Make a Difference

By Dr. Shelly Schuster, President, Keck Graduate Institute


As we celebrate completing the inaugural session of the Biocon Academy-KGI certificate program, I am reflecting on this time last year, when we were beginning to consider developing it. In fall 2000, Keck Graduate Institute (KGI), located in Claremont, California, enrolled its first students for a two year master’s program to educate scientists and engineers to help translate basic scientific discoveries into practical applications that will improve people’s lives. KGI was the first program of its kind and was based on the recognition that there were no programs dedicated to bridging the gap between business and science in the life sciences. Now, we are one (the best one!) of over 300 similar “Professional Science Masters” (PSM) programs in the United States. As we developed the curriculum, we embraced the knowledge that the life sciences comprise a global industry that impacts the entire world. So, with the emergence of the biotechnology sector in India, it is not a surprise that almost a third of our students in California come from India.

As we grew and talked with KGI Trustees about how to spread the positive impact of a KGI education more broadly, several spoke of Biocon CEO Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, who recognizes that Indian biotech companies have the same needs for business-trained science graduates as U.S. life science industries do, and that they also were experiencing the same gap in training that KGI was formed to address. She had the wisdom to see that she could begin to contribute to the development of professionals who would better serve her company and others in India by partnering with KGI, starting with a one-semester program covering important concepts in bioprocessing and clinical and regulatory affairs that impact the industry. Out of a highly selective process, 30 pioneer students were chosen and have now completed this innovative certificate program.

I have examined the curriculum and talked with faculty about their experience in teaching the courses remotely from California.  Uniformly, they are all excited that the program has gone so well. There were a few technical glitches that needed fixing, but overall, the learning was deep and the growth and increase in professionalism was profound. I trust that you graduates will put your learning to good use and will continue to evolve as you bring your talents and passion to the industry. Most importantly, encourage others to follow in your footsteps. There is plenty of room in the industry for knowledgeable professionals in the U.S., India, and around the globe!

Congratulations, and welcome to this industry. Through it, you truly have the power to make the world a better place!

Knowledge Flows with Ability and Attitude

By Parviz Shamlou, Director of Amgen Bioprocessing Center


Biocon Academy is dedicated to delivering high quality training module to aspiring biotechnologists. My interaction with the students from all the batches so far has been very enriching as they demonstrate high caliber and possess the desired attitude. The format of the sessions is far more different from any other sessions that I have conducted in the past. This is an ideal setting for relatively small number of students to have effective discussions. I am very happy to be part of the Academy and would recommend it to students who wish to build their career in Biotech industry.

Areas of Expertise: Early-to-Late Phase Bioprocess Development, Proteins & Monoclonal Antibody therapeutics, Viral & Non-Viral Gene therapies, Tissue Engineering, First Principle Modelling and Scale-down of Unit Operations for Accelerated Process Design, Qualification & Validation.

An Education Program That Makes You Industry Ready

By Meghana Joshi, Program Director, KGI

The Biocon-Meghana Joshi.jpgKGI program is a one-of-a-kind training program and a very valuable opportunity for students in India. The program includes virtual online classroom sessions and afternoon practical sessions that complement the coursework arranged at companies such as Biocon and other institutes. It’s a significant step towards ‘experiential learning’, a model we follow at Keck Graduate Institute. The students immediately apply what they learn in the classroom to their afternoon practical sessions and to classroom projects.

When I interview the students to admit them into the Biocon-KGI program, they typically are not aware of the workings of the industry. Also they want to know if what they have learned in college will be useful in the industry and how they can apply their knowledge. In just 4 months, the students learn the workings of the entire process from R & D to getting a drug to market. This program trains them in areas of Regulatory Affairs, Quality and Production most of which are new to students but very essential to be ‘industry-ready’.

I think the Biocon Academy students will prove to be a different breed of leaders in the Indian Life Sciences industry. It has been a great experience teaching in the program. The classes include team projects and presentations in addition to exams, quizzes and reports and the students really enjoy working in teams on the projects and then presenting them in class. In addition to the technical content, they learn to manage the dynamics of working on a team and many other soft skills which will prove essential for their career.