Karen Thickman, lecturer, UW Bioengineering
“Our graduates have a better and deeper understanding of the entire pharmaceutical market and the process by which pharmaceuticals are developed and what’s needed at the various steps to decide if a drug is a viable pharmaceutical,” Thickman says. “They are also better able to communicate with management about why a drug is scientifically valid.”
Co-directed by Edward Kelley, UW associate professor of pharmaceutics, who managed the Preclinical Bioanalytics group at Targeted Genetics Corporation before joining the faculty at UW; Patrick Stayton, Distinguished Career Professor of Bioengineering, who has developed therapies and co-founded two companies to move them into market; and Thickman, the program gives students direct access to faculty who have first-hand experiences with the drug development process, both in academia and industry.
Students will complete a core curriculum in Basic Biosciences, choose one of two advanced track options – Drug Discovery and Design or Translational Pharmaceutics – and take six credits of Departmental Seminars, which feature industry speakers from diverse biotech areas. Students will also complete a capstone project, featuring a life-cycle plan of a drug.
Convenience for busy schedules
One reason for putting the program fully online is the flux in people and even companies moving around, Thickman says. People can maintain the program regardless of where they live.
Students can watch pre-recorded sessions at their convenience, and live discussion sessions will occur once or twice a week in the evenings.
The program may also be attractive to international students, particularly in China and Korea, whose perspective will be useful to American students trying to understand the pharma industry as it becomes increasingly global, Thickman says.
Jennifer Pageler, PharBE ’12, who was part of the inaugural PharBE class, recalls, “What was so excellent about the course was the ability to interact with your peers and professors in live sessions – and the ability to participate in those sessions from a remote location. As an Amgen IT director, I needed to travel on a regular basis to non-Seattle sites, and the ability to get into my course and participate from a remote location, whether that be an airport or a hotel, was really compelling.”
Seeing from the “other side of the lens”
In addition to recorded and live online classes, students also interact with each other through team projects that promote communication and colleague-building skills.