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The University of Texas at Dallas, P.O. Box 830688, Richardson, Texas 75083-0688

News Release

For Immediate Release


News contact:

Steve McGregor, UTD, (972) 883-2293, smcgreg@utdallas.edu

Masters Degree in Biotechnology
To Debut at U. T. Dallas Next Fall

Dallas-Fort Worth Area's First Such Program to Prepare
Students for 'Next Wave of Commercial, Intellectual Endeavor'

RICHARDSON, Texas (April 12, 2004) – The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) next fall will begin offering a master of science degree designed to prepare students for careers in the promising field of biotechnology. It will be the first such degree offered by any university in the Metroplex.

UTD can begin granting the new, interdisciplinary M.S. in biotechnology degree as early as the fall 2004 semester, and students can enroll in the program before then. Authority to grant the degree was given to UTD in January by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

Biotechnology is “applied biology” – using living organisms to make or modify products, run processes or improve plants and animals. With recent advances in the science of genetics, including the completion in April 2003 of the Human Genome Project, many believe that biotechnology has the potential to revolutionize medicine by curing diseases and creating new products that dramatically benefit humanity.

The biotech industry is one of the fastest-growing areas of investment – one that is predicted to have strong and sustained growth well into the future.

“Biotechnology is the next wave of commercial and intellectual endeavor in our country and around the world,” said Dr. John P. Ferraris, interim dean of UTD’s School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. “Our new M.S. degree in biotechnology will enable students to master the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in the next-generation science and technology arena.

“UTD’s will be the first and only such degree in the Dallas-Fort Worth area,” said Ferraris. “While several schools in the Metroplex offer degrees in biomedical engineering, ours, which is broader and more flexible, will be the first graduate-level biotechnology degree offering among area universities.”

The degree requires the completion of 36 semester hours of courses, which a full-time student should be able to complete in a year and a half to two years, according to Chemistry Professor Dr. Lynn A. Melton, who helped develop the degree program over the past two years.

Among degree requirements will be the completion of four core courses – one each in proteomics, genomics and biotechnology laboratory (all biology classes) and one of three other classes in applied bioinformatics (biology), biological database systems and data mining (computer science) and bioinformatics (mathematics).

“Beyond the core courses, students will be able to customize their individual degree program to meet their specific career needs by selecting from a wide range of elective courses,” Melton said. “These fall into broad, diverse categories such as research, business, science and engineering and science education.”

Melton believes the new degree will have particular appeal among three audiences:

  • Those who earned a biology degree in the mid-1990s or before and want to upgrade their knowledge and skills. “The field of biology has been almost completely redone in the last eight years,” Melton said.
  • Those currently working in hospitals and other healthcare settings who want to qualify for jobs in new life-sciences-based companies and organizations.
  • A diverse group of others, including what Melton called “telecom refugees” – those who lost their livelihood when the telecommunications industry bubble burst – who now wish to re-direct their career paths.

“UTD, which has a rich history of outstanding graduate-level education and research in the sciences and technology, is perfectly positioned to offer, through its M.S. in biotechnology, new career opportunities in the post-genomic world,” Melton said.

The degree program is overseen by a newly established, multidisciplinary Committee on Biotechnology, which is composed of five members from the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and one representative from each of the following schools: Social Sciences, Management and Arts and Humanities. Melton chairs the committee, which reports to interim Dean Ferraris.

For additional information about the degree, please contact the Committee on Biotechnology at biotechMS@utdallas.edu or visit the web site www.utdallas.edu/biotechMS.

About UTD

The University of Texas at Dallas, located at the convergence of Richardson, Plano and Dallas in the heart of the complex of major multinational technology corporations known as the Telecom Corridor®, enrolls more than 13,700 students. The school’s freshman class traditionally stands at the forefront of Texas state universities in terms of average SAT scores. The university offers a broad assortment of bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs. For additional information about UTD, please visit the university’s web site at www.utdallas.edu.


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