It’s been a whirlwind year for the new Biomedical
Discovery and Commercialization (BDC) program. We
learned of provincial approval in the spring of 2014
and have been going flat out since then to implement
the new program. Thanks to an amazing and intrepid
group of level III students we managed to put on a pilot
BDC launch that began in January of this year. Having
completed an accelerated level III curriculum those
students will enter level IV this fall and are on track
to be our first graduates with a Masters in Biomedical
Discovery and Commercialization in 2017.
So what’s all the excitement about? Well, the new BDC
program has been created with a vision for a different kind of
scientist. Graduates of this new program will have formidable
skills in the biomedical sciences but they will also be
equipped with essential business skills and street smarts.
The program has been created for the new economy.
Graduates from the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering
and Mathematics) fields face a new career landscape. The
Masters degree is the new Bachelors and opportunities are
emerging at the interface of disciplines. Entrepreneurship
has caught on and some estimates suggest that as many as
one quarter of undergraduates would like to run their own
businesses one day. The one-company career is a distant
memory and so transferable (soft) skills have increasing
value. Thus training must enable a nimble career path.
Planning began four years ago and included
consultations with students, educators and, importantly,
we consulted with leaders in our community who
manage teams in pharmaceutical and biotechnology
companies as well as government and other sectors
related to the biomedical sciences. These folks told us
to seek out students with a passion for science and an
interest in business. They advised us to maintain a strong
focus in a curriculum in the biomedical sciences but also
to equip students with essential elements in business and
to make strong connections with the community.
The result is Biomedical Discovery and
Commercialization program. The format of the BDC
program is a ‘ 4+ 1’, such that students complete a
Bachelors degree and a one-year non-thesis Masters.
The program begins in level III. Indeed, it has attracted
students from several different programs in the Faculty
of Science, most notably Biochemistry, and from the
Bachelor of Health Sciences program as well as a number
of science students from other Ontario universities.
The ethos of the program hinges on experiential,
inquiry and team-based learning and on a substantive
community interaction. The undergraduate program puts
a focus on biomedical science courses and integrates
essential business elements with four commerce courses.
The former have been purpose-built to expose students
to real-world problems and thinking in modern drug
discovery and development. The graduate program
includes a four-month internship in the pharmaceutical,
biotechnology or related sector of the community.
In all, we aspire to equip graduates to compete
and lead in the health sciences sector. BDC graduates
will be well prepared for careers in pharmaceutical
and biotechnology companies that span a wide range
of opportunities including discovery, preclinical and
clinical research as well as business development,
marketing and sales. We also have significant interest
from related elements of the sector including venture
financing and intellectual property experts who are
at the forefront of building new businesses in the
The program has been
created for the new