Why is Harvard launching this program now? 

The advances in biotechnology over the past decade have been astounding. These new innovations have led to new therapeutics that will involve social, business, and political implications. Currently, there really isn’t a systematic way to train leaders in this field. Furthermore, these advances raise a host of ethical issues in terms of diseases targeted, types of therapies, and accessibility. Given the rich experience of translational science in the Harvard system (Cambridge, Longwood, and the affiliated hospitals), and the deep knowledge of biotech leadership at Harvard Business School, the university is in a unique position to take the lead in this training.

What types of individuals are you looking for?

We are looking for the next leaders who wish to think deeply about challenges at the intersection of biotech, pharma, and business. Students should also love to tackle big questions, analyze data critically, and devise creative solutions. Most students will have an undergraduate degree in the life sciences or another STEM field, or extensive biotech experience.

Is there a competitive advantage to pursuing a degree program like this in Boston?

Absolutely – there is no better place. Boston is the epicenter for biotech and pharma. Large companies have a major footprint here, and there is extensive experience in the faculty of bench-to-bedside approaches. The breadth of research in the scientific community, plus HBS’s wealth of experience in developing business leaders, make the perfect combination of resources for students studying here.

We expect that many graduates will go on to senior leadership positions in biotech, pharma, and venture capital companies, as well as in NGOs, policy, and regulatory affairs. We aspire to train a cadre of leaders prepared to deal with the broadest issues at the interface of biology and society. In the curriculum, there will be a particular emphasis on medical problems in currently underserved populations, as part of bringing neglected diseases to the forefront for future discovery and development. Furthermore, there will be sessions explicitly devoted to discussion of ethical issues, especially concerning the implications of new therapies. As a result, graduates will make their decisions grounded in a solid science, business, and ethical framework.

Why did you want to become involved in this joint degree porgram?

I’m passionate about education, and so I take teaching and mentoring extremely seriously. I’ve been lucky to have the opportunity to start and run undergraduate, graduate, and medical programs and courses. This new program allows us to develop a novel curriculum with a goal to change society for the better. It is unique in its interdisciplinary approach. We are adopting this model of ‘ethical entrepreneurship’ by not just having an occasional discussion here and there, but really making the science, business, and ethics a coherent blend in the curriculum. I am excited to be part of this. 

It has been an absolute pleasure to collaborate with HBS colleagues. Everyone, staff and faculty alike, has been amazing. I’ve worked a lot with Mark and Doug in the past, and so I jump at any chance I can to be part of a team with them. I especially look forward to working more closely with Amitabh, who is wonderful and has already taught me so much. I am excited to meet and engage with our students; this first cohort can’t come quickly enough.

What advice do you have for potential applicants?

To the applicants, I’d enthusiastically say that we are excited to get to know you! This program is designed to provide you with the skill sets and mentorship to succeed as a leader in this field regardless of your future career. Whether you wish to be part of senior management in biotech, pharma, or venture capital, or work more in the government policy sector, you will receive exceptional training from our faculty. We would be delighted to have you here!