Shaping Biotech's Future, at Genentech and MBP

Andy Lin talks about his role at the major biotech company and his role as a mentor on the Industrial Advisory Board (IAB) for Northwestern Engineering's Master of Biotechnology Program (MBP).

Andy Lin knows what it takes to be successful in the rapidly evolving biotechnology industry. 

As the technical development team leader at Genentech — the first publicly owned biotechnology company in the United States — Lin sees how important well-trained, highly skilled new graduates are to the future of his company and to those across the globe who need innovative medical treatments.

Andy LinThat’s why Lin, who graduated from Northwestern University in 1993 with a PhD in chemical engineering, serves on the Industrial Advisory Board (IAB) of Northwestern Engineering's Master of Biotechnology Program (MBP). 

“Biotechnology is a wide industry, and its impact on society will continue to grow,” he said. “Just look at the rapid development of RNA vaccines for COVID-19. Because this is a knowledge industry, students will continue learning after they leave MBP. Tomorrow's jobs may not have been invented yet.” 

That’s the guiding force behind the IAB. Its members meet annually for a two-day summit to talk with students and evaluate the effectiveness and relevance of MBP. From those conversations, goals and strategies are crafted to adapt the program's curriculum to ensure students are prepared for biotech's present and future.

“MBP prepares students to transition to the workplace after graduation,” Lin said. “I personally have really enjoyed interacting with the MBP students through our annual presentations and other networking opportunities.”

Lin’s work with Genentech puts him in an optimal position to evaluate MBP.  The company has spent the past 40-plus years developing novel treatments to help with conditions such as diabetes, growth hormone deficiency, and a variety of cancers. Lin leads cross-functional chemistry manufacturing and control (CMC) teams to develop new medicines, and he said MBP is doing a great job of preparing students to make a difference in biotechnology’s continued development. 

“We've hired several fantastic MBP graduates in the past," Lin said. "MBP provides solid academic training, and one can never get enough of the fundamentals. MBP also challenges students to do meaningful research and internships so they can interact with professors and industry partners.”

That depth and breadth of MBP helps create future leaders. 

But good leaders don’t just spontaneously appear. They emerge with the help of those one step ahead of them in their careers, which is what motivates Lin in his role with MBP. 

“I like leaders who ask good questions instead of just telling people what to do,” Lin said. “A good leader is always looking to grow and develop new talents.” 

By combining the lessons from MBP with the guidance of mentors like Lin, MBP graduates often find themselves in a position to quickly make a difference within an organization. 

“I've been with MBP for many years and am really impressed by the progress and the high caliber of graduates,” he said. “It's very satisfying to see.”

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