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Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology

 

The MPhil in Biotechnology puts together a group of highly capable and motivated students from a range of academic and career backgrounds, from all over the world. Many wish to merge their expertise in engineering, physics, chemistry, maths or computer sciences with biotechnology. Others have research and/or employment experience in the bioscience sector. They all are committed to become highly regarded players in biotechnology research and industry. The class size varies from year to year but is typically between 14 and 18 students.

Diversity at entry and a very interdisciplinary programme mean even more diversity at departure – since they left the MPhil in Biotechnology, our alumni have been pursuing a very wide range of careers in academia, large multinationals, small start-ups or the consultancy sector, among others.

Alumni benefits

As a University of Cambridge alumnus/a you will be entitled to a range of benefits, such as the official alumni card that instantly identifies you as a member of the University (CAMCard), a free email for life exclusive for our graduates, and access for life to our Careers Service.

The CEB Alumni Relations  team works at the CEB level to further promote the connection between the Department, its current members and its alumni.

As part of your learning experience with us, you will also become a member of our own MPhil in Biotechnology Alumni Network. We value alumni as an important part of the growing MPhil in Biotechnology community. After you leave the programme, we would like to keep hearing from you, and we hope you will continue involved in our community, follow CEB’s achievements, participate in our activities, share your experiences, support future programme editions and inspire the new students. We also hope that the MPhil in Biotechnology Alumni Network will help you keeping in contact with your classmates as well as extend your professional network.

Testimonials

Lynne Mooradian

US, Class of 2020-2021

"As a US citizen and recent graduate of the United States Military Academy, I was granted the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to study in the UK for two years as a Marshall Scholar. As a commissioned officer in the US Army, I was motivated to join the MPhil in Biotechnology because of my interest in synthetic biology and its implications on biosecurity.

"I was particularly impressed by the programme’s focus on the most cutting-edge aspects of synthetic biology and biotechnology, as well as the comprehensive education provided by a half-taught, half-research approach.

"Although moving to Cambridge from the US amid a global pandemic was a jarring and challenging experience, my time in the programme and at Cambridge in general has been incredibly fulfilling. The University has impressed me with its dedication to the support of its students, diversity, academic excellence, and the pursuit of knowledge. The city of Cambridge is vibrant and varied with beautiful and serene green spaces, excellent pubs and restaurants, and a bustling city centre.

"Altogether, my time at Cambridge and in the MPhil has been a rich and rewarding experience.

"Following my completion of the MPhil in Biotechnology, I will go on to read for an MSc in Science and Technology in Society at the University of Edinburgh. After the completion of my two years of graduate study in the UK, I will then return to the US to serve as an officer in the US Army."

 

Ido Ben-zvi

Israel, Class of 2020-2021

"Following my undergraduate degree in Computer Science, I wanted to learn how to apply my knowledge for the greater benefit of society. After encountering the MPhil in Biotechnology programme, I decided it was the best option for me to achieve that goal.

"The programme allowed me to use my computer science background for various applications within the biotechnology field, providing me with the required knowledge to do so effectively. In my research project I worked on modelling bacterial dynamics computationally, whereas in the Healthcare Biotechnology course I explored the effects of digital health on bipolar disorder. The best aspect of the programme is the freedom to tailor the degree to your specific background and interests.

"Outside of the classroom, I thoroughly enjoyed college life in Cambridge, representing the university in basketball, and life in the city itself. Upon finishing the programme, I will be looking to work in the biotechnology industry."

 

 

Alex Wheeler

South Africa, Class of 2019-2020

"My journey started with an undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Cape Town in South Africa. Straight after graduating I joined a newly established Financial Crime team in one of the major banks in South Africa, where I worked for almost 5 years. My passion has however always been in the sciences, and therefore the MPhil in Biotechnology presented as the perfect opportunity to make a move back into the science and engineering field. 

"From application to graduation I felt welcome and relaxed and everyone across the department and the MPhil cohort were very friendly. I enjoyed the multi-faceted approach of the programme, allowing the students to choose both elective courses and a research project – the combination of which allowed me to better understand various aspects of biotechnology and helped me to find the discipline which interested me most.

"Unfortunately the COVID-19 pandemic hit half way through our degree. The department however quickly made plans to accommodate the remainder of our programme and ensured that we still finished on time; and, while it was not as expected, we were still able to complete a very interesting group project remotely. I hope to return to complete a PhD in the biosensors space, however in the meantime I am working in South Africa and keeping up-to-date with technologies in the healthcare biotechnology industry through writing investment research reports on companies in the sector. 

"I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Cambridge, both in the department and in College – making new friends and learning how to row (badly) – and I hope to return soon!"

 

Dillon Chew

Singapore, Class of 2019-2020

"I came into the MPhil in Biotechnology programme with a background in Chemical Engineering and the Life Sciences. During my undergraduate time, I had several opportunities to work on design and research projects focusing on the sustainable bioproduction of chemicals and biofuels, which greatly sparked my interest in the application of biology to develop technologies that would improve our everyday lives. 

"Coming across the MPhil in Biotechnology at Cambridge, I was drawn to the interdisciplinary nature, half-taught half-research curriculum, and close connections that the progarmme has with the biotechnology industry. In addition, it was very hard to reject the opportunity to live the Cambridge experience.

"The interdisciplinary and application-focused nature was what made the program challenging and rewarding. For instance, both the Healthcare Biotechnology and Bionanotechnology courses challenged us to develop diagnostic solutions for the pandemic. One of the most enjoyable experiences I had in the porgarmme was my individual research project under Professor Alison Smith from the Department of Plant Sciences, which really complimented my previous experiences. The project not only allowed me to further hone my wet lab skills, but also challenged me to venture into the world of bioinformatics which greatly expanded my technical skill set. In addition, the research group was also very accommodating, and I really appreciated the support and all the intellectual discussions we had.

"Outside of class, I also had valuable experiences working with other undergraduate and postgraduate students in the area of biotechnology. Getting involved with the Cambridge Consulting Network, I worked with biotech startups to understand their needs and directly propose solutions for them. In addition, joining the Medical iTeams allowed me gain hands-on experience as I developed commercialisation approaches for an innovative medical invention.  

"Currently, I am working as an associate scientist at Procter and Gamble where I integrate microbiology, molecular biology and bioinformatics to drive innovation in the hygiene space. Some interesting projects include developing rapid/real-time hygiene diagnostic technologies, upgrading the microbial efficacy of hygiene products, and studying the microbiomes around us through metagenomics sequencing. 

"I strongly believe that my time at Cambridge has greatly exposed me to the rapidly growing field of biotechnology and prepared me well for a career in this field, and I look forward to seeing where my journey in biotechnology takes me."

Margaux Durand

France, Class of 2019-2020

"After studying engineering at École Polytechnique in France, I chose the MPhil Biotech to gain more expertise in the field of environmental biotechnology, interested in how to apply biotech to finding renewable alternatives to unsustainable processes or products. Undeniably, I was also keen on benefitting from the rich and diverse research environment in a university such as Cambridge; despite the trials and tribulations of 2020, the “Cambridge experience” well exceeded my expectations. 

"During the MPhil, from an academic standpoint, I particularly enjoyed the Bionanotechnology class, including, I must admit, our final exam coursework: designing a covid biosensor. I also enjoyed the challenge of the Individual Research Project, which called on many skills aside from the pure scientific aspect, rendering it all the more enriching. The highlight of the degree and of my experience in Cambridge more generally, despite how cliché this may sound, has truly been the opportunity to meet outstanding, ambitious and talented individuals (both students and professors). I am grateful for the time spent sharing and learning from each other’s experience, and for the support of the entire cohort, who made it through 6 months of remote learning! 

"Since finishing the degree, I have been working as a renewable energies engineer at ADEME, the French agency for ecological transition, supporting renewable energy policy-making. I will be joining CDC Biodiversité in the coming months, working towards a PhD in biodiversity footprint measurement."

 

Bergthor Traustason

Iceland, Class of 2018-2019

"I chose the MPhil in Biotechnology programme because I felt it was the perfect match to my research interests and allowed me to develop interdisciplinary skills in biotechnology as well as apply my background in physics and engineering.

"I enjoyed the fact that you get a chance to not only work on in-depth research but also to explore current trends and the latest advances in biotechnology through various electives. There was also the transferable skills module that provided an opportunity to learn about how to exploit entrepreneurial opportunities as well as transfer useful knowledge from academia to industry.

"The programme provided a unique opportunity to engage and connect with extraordinary individuals and leading experts in their fields. It also gave an opportunity for me to broaden my vision and challenge myself in new ways, such as by writing a literature review, which led to a publication.

"Following my completion of the MPhil in Biotechnology, I worked in consulting and primary intelligence within the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry. I had the chance to work with many of the world leading pharmaceutical companies on a global scale, while generating bespoke local insights through advanced analytics. Currently I am a doctoral student in Interdisciplinary Bioscience at the University of Oxford based in both the Department of Engineering Science and the Department of Plant Sciences. My research focuses on systems and synthetic biology approaches for bacterial communities and their interaction with plants. The MPhil in Biotechnology provided me with a solid foundation both for my work in industry and academia."
 

Maxime Crabé

France, Class of 2018-2019

"I decided to apply for the MPhil in Biotechnology because of its broad range of electives, close connections with the industry, and to live the Cambridge experience!

"The course made me discover how broad the field of biotechnology actually is, and how diverse your career possibilities are. Working in an academic lab or becoming an entrepreneur are two very different career plans that appeal to me, and this MPhil gave me an exposure to both of them.

"The most enjoyable part of the MPhil was my individual research project. I was fully integrated within my team, the Bionano Engineering Group of Dr Ljiljana Fruk, and received all the support I needed to carry out my own research project.

"Throughout the course I had the opportunity to meet a lot of enthusiastic and passionate researchers working in different academic or industrial labs. I might come back to Cambridge to work with some of them in the years to come!

"I am now working as a strategy consultant for the biotech/pharmaceutical industry and thus advising executives on high-level decisions covering a broad range of issues. For instance, projects I have been working on include the development of a 5-year business plan for a company developing software-assisted genetic diagnoses for precision medicine, the optimisation of a big pharma's R&D productivity, and the preparation of the commercial launch of a new cancer treatment. With its balance between scientific and business-oriented electives, the MPhil in Biotechnology definitely equipped me with all of the necessary knowledge I need in my daily practice!"

Wilson Wang

US, Class of 2018-2019

"After specialising in chemistry during my last year at Williams College in the USA, I knew I wanted to see more of how science moves from theory to application. A rigorous education in the science and business of biotechnology in the innovation hub of Silicon Fen was the perfect way for me to do this.

"The MPhil in Biotechnology added a new layer to what I plan to do in the future. Although I aspired to pursue medicine in an MD degree in the USA, I wanted to add an extra layer of biotechnology onto my responsibilities as a physician. I see biotechnology as a way to help future patients.

"Since leaving Cambridge, I have matriculated at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis as a Distinguished Student Scholar. I have recently completed my first year of medical school (virtually as per Covid) and am preparing to enter the hospitals soon to apply my knowledge practically in clinical rotations. The pandemic has only re-emphasized the importance of scientific research and its translation and application to society, and so I continue to explore new ways of adding that extra layer of biotechnology and entrepreneurship as I train as an aspiring physician."
 

Class of 2020/21