The challenge of starting a biotech company may become easier, thanks to new master's degrees that are issued jointly by schools of management and graduate science programs.
The University of Pennsylvania--along with Johns Hopkins and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology--have been trailblazers in this effort. The first four graduates of Penn's program will don caps and gowns this month.
Scott Diamond, who designed Penn's two-year, 25-course program, says that it was born out of demand from Wharton students. They weren't exactly looking to map the human genome, he explains, but thought a stronger background in science would be an advantage in a field where entrepreneurship has flourished in recent years. Because of the program's popularity thus far, Penn plans to increase enrollment to roughly 15 next year. In addition, this fall Penn will launch a biotech law degree, focusing on intellectual property and licensing issues. And Diamond predicts that many universities will follow suit. "These days," he says, "it's really hard to pull apart the science from the business."