Campus: CSU San Marcos -- June 15, 2005

Cal State San Marcos Biotechnology Major Approved by Chancellor for Fall 05 Start Up

Students in the region interested in a career in biotechnology have a new opportunity to prepare for the academic and administrative rigors of the profession. California State University San Marcos has received an official nod from CSU chancellor Charles B. Reed to offer a Bachelor of Science degree in biotechnology, beginning with the upcoming fall semester.

Planning for the new major, which combines the study of science and business, has been in the works for more than two years. Under the guidance of industry veteran Al Kern, the program was developed in direct response to the region’s growing need for professionals who can work in a diverse field that requires strong scientific knowledge, skill and ability to be successful in a business environment.

“The biotechnology program is the result of a lot of input from industry executives and program architecture by the faculty,” said Kern. “This unique program was initiated to match the needs of the number-one biotechnology cluster in the world – the San Diego region.”

The major will offer a broad scientific education enabling students to compete and succeed in a variety of careers in biotech, teaching, and the health sciences. Students will also have access to training in research and development, business operations, quality control, production and government regulations within the industry.

According to Kern, the new major is differentiated from biology because of the focus of knowledge on cellular and molecular life processes and its application to resolving issues for society and the environment. The major is also distinguished from biology because of the exposure to business principles and the biotechnology industry through such avenues as guest lectures, internships, mentorships, and company visits. In addition, an open-to-all seminar series is expected to be initiated that will bring industry leaders and biotechnology-related issues to campus.

Kern said that the university has built a program to provide “well-prepared, lab-ready, and business-savvy” graduates. “After 30 years in industry and hiring people for R&D jobs, I have a good idea of what companies are looking for,” he said.

Kern has more than 25 years of experience working nationally and internationally for such companies as Monsanto and Mycogen.

More information about the biotechnology program at Cal State San Marcos is available from Al Kern, director, biotechnology programs, 760/750-8038,

Contact: Paige Jennings, 760/750-4048 or

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