KGI Experience Serves Alum Dan Abramzon Well
Dan Abramzon ('07) had a general idea of what he wanted from his career, but it took the education he received at Keck Graduate Institute (KGI) to fine-tune his vision and give him the skills he needed to make an early mark in his chosen field.
A native of St. Petersburg, Russia, who came to the U.S. at the age of seven, Abramzon, now 28, graduated from the University of California, San Diego, in 2004 with a bachelor's degree in bioengineering. After graduation, he worked for a year as a vaccine development researcher. "I enjoyed all the scientific aspects of the job," he says, "but I wanted to fit it into a bigger picture."
Abramzon planned to go on to graduate school for a technology-related master's degree, and follow that up with an MBA before eventually moving into the area of biotechnology management. But a colleague told him about KGI and, "it sounded like it was exactly what I wanted," says Abramzon.
His KGI experience was just what he expected, says Abramzon, "in a good way." What he especially liked about the school was the flexibility and freedom to pursue his own interests within the parameters of the program to really make it his own. For Abramzon, that meant, among other things, delving into intellectual property and patent law, with the result that he is now a registered patent agent. He also pursued a number of lab-based independent studies which allowed him to keep his technical skills sharp.
"The curriculum at KGI is broad and exposes you to many disciplines," says Abramzon, adding that he especially liked the practical applications that the faculty members, many of whom work in the industry, are able to share with the students.
Upon receiving his Master of Bioscience degree, Abramzon was hired at the South San Francisco offices of Genentech. He spent two years in Genentech's Operations Rotational Development Program, completing four six-month assignments in different departments and getting an overview of the entire company, before being promoted to the role of Strategic Planner in Product Operations. "This was my 'target group' in Genentech," Abramzon says. "I'm really happy with my role here."
"Dan was among the first set of students to graduate in the new bioprocessing focus track," says Matthew S. Croughan, KGI's George B. and Joy Rathmann Professor and director of the Amgen Bioprocessing Center. "He gave the first talk by a KGI bioprocessing student at an international conference, on the economics of antibody production. He is gifted not only in bioprocessing, but also in operations management, financial analysis, and strategic planning. This opened up many unique career opportunities for him at Genentech."
Abramzon's responsibilities at Genentech are varied and include managing decisions on manufacturing site selection and capacity planning, and helping design the integration strategy associated with Genentech's recent acquisition by the Swiss-based pharmaceutical company Roche.
"Our role in strategic planning is cross-functional," Abramzon says, explaining that he works with Genentech employees throughout the company, from regulatory affairs to manufacturing, supply chain, research, and commercial planning.
"Being able to credibly communicate with all these varied functions is very important for success in this setting," says Abramzon, who credits KGI with providing him the breadth of knowledge that made his transition from the academic to the corporate world so seamless.
Abramzon, who will be getting married in September, has already mapped out his career path. In the "medium term," he hopes to continue to work on challenging projects while developing his technical and managerial skills and experience - hopefully leading to an executive position at a biopharmaceutical company. With a keen interest in novel therapeutic modalities, Abramzon is interested in applying his experience from biopharmaceuticals to commercializing stem cell therapies in the future. Keeping his eyes on the "bigger picture," he's looking forward to having an impact on drug development. "The costs of healthcare are, of course, staggering," he says, "and that is largely driven by the cost and risk of developing new medicines. I'd like to be involved in creating a way to do this in a more cost-feasible and risk-appropriate way."
While Abramzon keeps his eyes focused firmly on the future, he looks back to his experience at KGI with appreciation. "KGI offers a wonderful opportunity," he says, adding a word of advice to current and prospective students. "Take advantage of everything KGI offers, but know what you want so you can make the most of your experience there."
"Go in with a purpose."
- By Carol Sorgen
Educating the future leaders of the bioscience industry, Keck Graduate Institute (KGI) offers an interdisciplinary graduate education through its Master of Bioscience (MBS) degree program and its PhD program in Applied Life Sciences. Using team-based learning and real-world projects, KGI's innovative curriculum seamlessly combines applied life sciences, bioengineering, bioethics and business management. KGI also has a robust research program concentrating on the translation of basic discoveries in the life sciences into applications that can benefit society. KGI is a member of The Claremont Colleges, located in Claremont, California.
Keck Graduate Institute of Applied Life Sciences is dedicated to education and research aimed at translating into practice, for the benefit of society, the power and potential of the life sciences.