An important component of this training program is the formal interaction of trainees with the biotechnology industry, because in general a close exchange between the academic and industrial sectors is highly beneficial to both. Biotech relies on the translation of very recent advances in the life sciences and bioprocess engineering into commercial products and processes. In addition, the exceptional quality of students seeking graduate degrees at Berkeley has proven to be attractive to companies seeking future employees; internships and sponsored research activities provide a means of recruiting students early. Likewise, academia can greatly benefit from interchange with industry. The staff of both small companies and established pharmaceutical houses functions at the forefront of research in biotechnology, and they provide important perspectives on important biotechnological problems whose solution will have downstream impact on industry.
All ABBE trainees conduct an internship in a biotechnology or pharmaceutical company for a period of at least 3 months. The objective is to ensure that the internship is of maximum benefit to the trainee and the supporting company. The company selected is typically involved in aspects of the trainee’s thesis research project, and the internship is undertaken when the trainee has sufficient background to be able to participate fully in the company’s research and development activities. The Bay Area is home to a large number of biotechnology companies, and internships with local companies offer the attractive advantages that trainee housing is not affected and ongoing collaborations can be established beyond the internship period. It should also be noted that Professor Schaffer offers this internship opportunity to all predoctoral students of all training faculty, as it is a valuable opportunity for predoctoral education in general.