In 2009, tech industry leader, Dr. Andy Grove (PhD, UC Berkeley), had conversations with his friend, UCSF oncologist, Dr. Marc Shuman, about the slow pace at which basic science research reached patient care.
At that time, UC Berkeley and UCSF had 30 years of joint program experience and were adept at offering joint PhD programs connecting basic sciences to fundamental problems in health care. The gap was that there wasn’t a professional program to teach the translation of benchtop testing and prototyping to commercialization. A professional master’s degree in the area of translational medicine was needed in order to teach the cross-departmental skills of business, clinical work, intellectual property, and regulatory strategies needed in industry.
The result was a novel program to bring together the expertise of UC Berkeley Engineering with the health care leadership of UCSF: the Master of Translational Medicine (MTM). The MTM is jointly run by the UC Berkeley Bioengineering Department and the UCSF Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences.
The Grove Foundation provided initial funding to support the development of new classes and curriculum that help students navigate the challenges and obstacles in healthcare that stand between a novel solution and the patients who need improved care.
Our first class entered in 2010. These eleven students, with varied backgrounds ranging from bioengineering to chemical and biomolecular engineering, received an MS in Bioengineering. By 2013, drawing on the experiences of those early classes, the Regents of the University of California approved the creation of a brand new degree, the Master of Translational Medicine.
The program has evolved incrementally over the years, relying on ongoing connections with industry partners and the experiences of our alumni to ensure that the curriculum adjusts to the changing needs of industry. The demographics of the students have also shifted over the years. Originally drawing almost exclusively from engineering backgrounds, it now includes a large number of students with life science degrees.