In 2020-2021, Elms students can pursue a bachelor’s degree with a concentration in biotechnology research. An accelerated path to a master’s degree will be offered 2021-2022.

“My role is to guide them, not to decide for them.” This is how Sudad Saman, Ph.D., describes his approach to mentoring students interested in research.

Sudad discusses proper lab techniques with two postbaccalaureate premedical students.

A relatively new face on campus — he became lecturer of biomedical sciences in fall 2019 — Sudad is now at the forefront of the college’s science innovation efforts. Along with Janet Williams, Ph.D., Sudad is leading a scientific renaissance on campus through the creation of a new degree program in biotechnology. The program will offer undergraduate and, in the future, graduate students a research-intensive introduction to some of the most pressing issues and challenges facing modern science.

“Students leaving Elms will have been exposed to all of the methods and techniques that make them competitive when applying for jobs.”

Sudad Saman

Sudad brings 14 years of industry experience to the new curriculum. At the University of Massachusetts Lowell, he specialized in biomedical engineering and biotechnology, focusing on Alzheimer’s disease and traumatic brain injuries. He also served as a lead scientist at Ultra Analysis, a medical diagnostic company. At Elms, Sudad injects this experience into lectures, class discussions, and research projects, which give students an unfiltered look at the events currently affecting biotechnology.

“Students learn how to run an experiment on their own, organize themselves in the lab, evaluate the results of experiments, and determine what must be done next,” Sudad said. “Students leaving Elms will have been exposed to all of the methods and techniques that make them competitive when applying for jobs in this field.”

Quick Info

  • Bachelor’s degree in four years
  • Master’s degree in 18 months (beginning 2021-2022)
  • Emphasis on lab work and applied research
  • Co-author articles and see work published in peer-reviewed journals
  • Research takes place in a fully-equipped cell culture lab that includes equipment used for DNA, RNA, and protein analysis, as well as tissue study instrumentation.

Research-Intensive Focus

While Elms already offers a graduate program in biomedical sciences (BMS), it is designed for students planning to enter professional healthcare, with a curriculum that resembles the first year of some medical school programs. The biotech program approaches science from a research perspective and is more technique and analysis based. It also explores other issues of importance to research, such as patent law.

MBS student Kaleigh Gordon-Ross ’20 notes that advanced training in research helps students bolster their resumes and establish professional reputations while still in school.

“It provides real experiences,” Kaleigh said. “I think it’s beneficial to have this background and knowledge, even just how to do basic techniques and computer programming, because they can apply to other environments.”

Andrew Clifford, BMS ’20, was involved in two biomedical research projects at Elms, including exploring new ways to rapidly analyze strains of infectious bacteria. “I’m learning this material in a very applicable, practical way,” he said. “Going forward into medical school, I’ll have a far better understanding than just (by reading) textbook definitions.”

Krunal Bombaywala ’20, a student in the postbaccalaureate pre-medical program, says that the support of faculty like Saman and Williams is a “rare commodity” special to Elms. “The faculty here are really amazing,” he said. 

While Krunal conducted undergraduate research at a large public university, the experience was much less hands-on, he said. At Elms, the sciences faculty greeted him with open arms, and encouraged him to collaborate with other graduate and postbaccalaureate students on experiments. Krunal plans on translating this experience to a career as a dentist.

Postbaccalaureate pre-medical program students (l-r) Krunal Bombaywala ’20, Amari Powell ’21, and Samuel Francois ’21 collaborate in the Lyons Center research lab. Powell, who has her sights set on attending dental school, felt at home at Elms because the research opportunities aligned with her undergraduate experience. Working with professors Saman and Williams on her lab techniques was indispensable, Amari said. For Samuel, researching Alzheimer’s disease in Saman’s lab has been directly applicable to his career goal, which is to become a neurosurgeon. 

“The research I’ve done here allows me to not only broaden my horizons, but also, I get to pick and choose where I want to apply,” Krunal said, noting that some dental programs emphasize clinical experience, while others prioritize research.

“That’s an advantage — now I’m thinking of doing research while I’m in dental school, or even after,” he said.

Cameron Ford ’19 enrolled in the master’s in biomedical sciences program intending to go into medicine. But the close faculty relationships he developed persuaded him to consider a career in academia. Ford is now an Elms adjunct professor, guiding students through the same transformational experience he had. “It brought out who I was, and who I wanted to be,” he said of the BMS program. Here, Ford uses a computer in the cell culture lab to analyze data for an investigation into Alzheimer’s markers. 

Elms offers a unique opportunity for students looking to get involved with lab research, Sudad said. Whereas joining a lab at a large college or university is a highly competitive process, the class sizes at Elms encourage everyone to test the waters. Students gain invaluable hands-on experience that helps them decide on a career path.

“Most importantly, students see the challenges of research-based science, and learn how to accomplish their goals,” he added.

Visit our biotechnology program page to learn more.