Johns Hopkins University
Fall/Winter 2006
Vol. 4, No. 1


A "Broken" Approach to Community Policing

Science's Coming Explosion

> Fellows Marry Theory with Practice

Independent Inquiries

A Skeletal Switch as Seawater Changes

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Fellows Marry Theory with Practice

Dac Nguyen is investigating how to turn off genes that will help prevent cancer from developing in the first place. The Harvard graduate works at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) labs—and he recently earned his master’s degree in biotechnology from Johns Hopkins.

“The training [was] phenomenal,” says Dac, of the two-year master’s program offered through Advanced Academic Programs at the Krieger School. “I [worked] in a lab among postdocs and investigators who are thinking about the biggest research questions in cancer today,” he says.

Biotechnology is a field that holds great promise for new drug therapies, for everything from AIDS to cancer. By uncovering differences in cancers at the molecular level, for example, scientists like Dac can help researchers develop drugs that target cancer while leaving healthy cells unharmed.

So when the NCI approached Johns Hopkins about the dearth of qualified professionals with biotechnology skills, the program became a natural solution. “We agreed to move forward and develop a curriculum to train students in this growing discipline,” says Patrick Cummings, senior associate program chair for the Biotechnology Program. “It has been positive for both NCI and Hopkins. NCI is getting bright, motivated students and we are developing professionals who will support the creation of novel health products.” During the program, fellows have the opportunity to work on cutting-edge cancer research at the prestigious NCI laboratories—the place where about half of all cancer drugs used today have been discovered.

Up to five students per year are selected for the two-year fellowship. Recipients receive paid tuition and an annual stipend. “The stipend allows students to focus on the studies and their research,” says Sarah Steinberg, associate dean for Advanced Academic Programs at the Krieger School. “The program is the perfect marriage of theory and practice, which allows students to go from the classroom to the workplace, where they can immediately apply what they have learned,” she says.

The fellowship is awarded to students who are interested in earning a master’s degree and then working in government, the biopharmaceutical industry, or academia. For their class work, students take several biotechnology courses and spend at least four semesters of full-time work in a lab.