Sarah Goodman won’t have much free time after she graduates from Upstate’s Medical Biotechnology program this month.
She’ll spend June and July in France, putting her research and laboratory skills to use at a Paris hospital through an exchange program sponsored by the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations.
Then it’s back stateside in August, when Sarah will begin her master’s degree program – in patent law — at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana.
Patent law may seem an unusual master’s degree to pursue, but biotech companies and law firms that work with intellectual copyright in scientific research need people with a dual background in science and in law.
Sarah spent a good part of her senior year at Upstate working on two research projects on genetic mutations linked to schizophrenia and Parkinson’s disease. She worked with Associate Professor Frank Middleton, PhD, scientific director of the SUNY Microarray core facility at Upstate.
“I like working on genetics, and with DNA,” Sarah said. “I’ve always been interested in genetics and neurodegenerative disorders. It’s like a puzzle, and the mystery is where the pieces should go.”
Medical Biotechnology students tend to be patient and determined, willing to work on a project that may not yield results for months, as was the case with her schizophrenia project, she said.
“I’ve been a tour guide on campus, and one prospective student asked me why it takes so long to do research,” Sarah said. “But if you enjoy it, it’s not a chore. I’ve learned a lot. Now I’m able to do things on my own and problem-solve.”
Sarah said students in Upstate’s Medical Biotechnology program have an advantage with the senior internship built into the curriculum. That lab experience elevates Upstate students over those at other schools, Sarah said, as does our bachelor’s degree in medical biotechnology rather than just biology.
“There are so many different directions you can go with a Biotech degree,” she said – biotech companies, academic research, forensics, medical school, even patent law.
Or even, for a summer, Paris.