Cultivating specialists in life sciences to meet industry demand
Source: Suffolk Law

Life sciences – the field that encompasses the fields of biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, biomedical technologies, biomedical devices, and related sectors – is seeing major growth and disruption spurred by emerging technologies and the rise of medical technology companies.

According to the 2020 Deloitte Global Life Sciences Outlook report, “the Life Sciences sector is at an inflection point. To prepare for the future and remain relevant in the ever-evolving business landscape, biopharma and medtech organisations will be looking for new ways to create value and new metrics to make sense of today’s wealth of data.

“The integration of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning approaches within life sciences is making drug discovery and development more innovative, time-effective, and cost-effective.”

An industry that is seeing rapid innovation and growth such as this often leads to skill and workforce gaps, where there are not enough skilled workers and professionals to meet job demand.

This is the exact issue faced by Boston, Massachusetts – where the life sciences industry has been expanding quickly – with an estimated 35 percent increase in life sciences jobs over the past decade.

MassBioEd’s 2018 report on job trends in the life sciences in Massachusetts projects employment growth in the industry to reach almost 12,000 new workers between May 2017 and May 2023, a six-year growth rate of 17.4 percent.

However, the report notes that the majority of organisations polled said the average time it takes to fill an opening at their organisations exceeded two and a half months. Another 30 percent reported that the average time to fill openings was longer than three months.

Source: Suffolk Law

As there are clearly not enough trained professionals in the state to meet this employment demand,  Suffolk University Law School has recently launched a new Master of Science in Law: Life Sciences (MSLL).

This unique STEM-designated degree specifically prepares professionals for careers in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry; both attorneys and non-attorneys can apply.

Suffolk Law Dean Andrew Perlman said, “We’re offering this new degree to give people the knowledge and skills they need to excel in the life sciences sector.

“Such training is especially important because the Massachusetts life sciences industry is one of the fastest-growing employment areas in the Greater Boston area, and the sector has a tremendous, unmet demand for people with relevant expertise.”

Preparing industry professionals for cutting-edge life sciences sectors

Although the degree is offered through the Law School, the degree is interdisciplinary, incorporating legal, business, and scientific knowledge and skills needed to support the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, including the following areas identified by experts in the sector:

  • Regulatory compliance law and risk mitigation
  • Drug development and commercialisation of new therapies
  • Intellectual property law
  • Business practice
  • Bio/pharma data and statistics
  • Contract law
  • Cell biology and genetics
  • Negotiation
  • Legal analysis

Faculty from Suffolk Law, Suffolk University’s Sawyer Business School as well as the College of Arts and Sciences will teach in the program.

Some classes offered by Suffolk Law include Applied Genetics, Biotechnology Business and the Law, Compliance Issues in Pharma and Life Sciences, and Pharmaceutical Manufacturing, Policy, and Practice.

Students can either complete the degree full or part-time at Suffolk University’s downtown Boston campus, and no GRE, GMAT or LSAT is required to apply for the program.

As the MSLL is a STEM-designated degree, international students may also qualify for extended Optional Practical Training (OPT), so they can legally work for a longer period of time in the US after graduation.

Specifically designed to boost employability

As the program is delivered in the heart of thriving Greater Boston—a hub of scientific and technological innovation in life sciences—students also benefit from practical learning opportunities where they can build and expand their professional network.

Atosa Ahmadi. Source: Suffolk Law

“The MSLL program is designed to fill the void in positions that currently exist in the biotech industry, explains Atosa Ahmadi, a biology lecturer at Suffolk University, who will be teaching in the program. “Today, more than ever, biotech relies on individuals with business and legal or regulatory backgrounds, who are also conversant with scientific principles in biology.”

Upon graduation, MSLL students will become well-prepared and capable to take on roles such as project manager, compliance and monitoring manager, contract manager, technology specialist, ethics and compliance officer, regulatory operations and publishing manager, contracts negotiator, product developer, policy analyst, and biotechnology transactions attorney.

Through this new innovative graduate program, Suffolk University’s Law School is filling workforce gaps and developing employable graduates in the cutting-edge and rapidly growing field of life sciences.

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