The Caltech NIH Biotechnology Leadership Pre-doctoral Training Program was established in 2015.
We are thrilled to share with you the great success of our first cohort of trainees who have recently graduated. All students credit the Biotechnology Leadership Program for critical training and insights that shaped their careers.
The average time-to-degree for BLP trainees is 5.6 years.
As of February 2020, 7 BLP trainees have graduated, and 13 have completed industrial internships.
Biotechnology Internship Venues:
- Instrumentation Laboratory, Bedford, MA
- Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation, La Jolla, CA
- Amyris, Emeryville, CA
- Synlogic, Boston, MA
- EvoRx, Pasadena, CA
- Roche Sequencing, Pleasanton, CA
- Ambry Genetics, Aliso Viejo, CA
- Codexis, Redwood City, CA
- Biomarin, San Rafael, CA
- Provivi Inc., Santa Monica, CA
- Komodo Health
Selected Trainee Accomplishments:
Biotechnology Leadership Program Graduate Career Placements
Dr. Kevin Yang
Machine learning scientist
The BLP gave me an invaluable opportunity to consider and experience science outside of academia. The internship was a chance to test out life as an industry scientist and helped me to clarify what I wanted from a full-time position. Furthermore, the mentorship and professional development afforded by the BLP helped me throughout the job search: from writing resumes and cover letters, to interviews, and finally to negotiating and choosing between multiple offers. As a result of my experiences in the BLP, I was able to find a job that's tailored to my abilities and interests right out of my PhD.
Dr. Ruijie (Kelly) Zhang
Scientist 1, Enzymology
The BLP program provided me with an experience in industry that altered my original designed career path. The path I was most familiar with was obtain a post-doctoral scholar position post PhD. However, after doing an industry internship at Amyris, through the BLP, I decided to stray from this route. What surprised me most about my experience was just how much I enjoyed doing research in an industry setting. Post-graduation I returned to Amyris as a full-time employee (Scientist) in their Enzymology group. The BLP gave me the opportunity to explore this alternative career path and ultimately shaped my career.
Axonics Modulation Technologies
Of all the experiences Caltech has to offer its students, I am most grateful for the unique learning opportunities offered by the Biotechnology Leadership Program (BLP). One of the most useful skills I got to practice was the art of crafting a story during our learning lunches, which I’ve consistently had to utilize at career fairs, conference mixers & informational interviews. Most importantly, the BLP leadership was an excellent source of advice and mentorship, the doors of the BLP Director and coordinator were always open and they never failed to guide me through career aspirations, interviews, resumes, and the many academic challenges of graduate study.
Dr. Josh Brake
Assistant Professor of Engineering at Harvey Mudd College
The BLP was a wonderful part of my PhD experience at Caltech. The industry internship experience was a valuable one for me, helping me to discern potential career trajectories early on in my studies. In addition, through the program I met many other bright Caltech grad students working in nano- and bio-medicine related fields who have become good friends and will continue to be my colleagues throughout my career. I look forward to maintaining connections with and supporting the current and future BLP students!
Dr. Anupama Lakshmanan
Winner of the Demetriades - Tsafka - Kokkalis Prize in Biotechnology or Related Fields, and the Clauser Doctoral Prize for the best PhD thesis at Caltech (2019)
I am extremely grateful to the Biotechnology Leadership Program at Caltech and Synlogic for giving me this opportunity to do an industrial internship, and even wish that I had done this earlier in my PhD program. Based on my experience, I would highly recommend all students to consider doing an industrial internship during graduate school to gain exposure to different R&D pipelines outside academia. Last but not the least, I strongly believe that the industrial experience will help me make a more informed decision about my next step after graduate school and allow me to actively explore new ways in which I can contribute to improving human lives through biomedical research.
The BLP has been instrumental in helping me transition towards Industry. I started off graduate school thinking that academia was the best place to do serious, fundamental research. Since my internship at a small startup, where I participated in some exploratory projects and research, I've warmed to the idea of pursuing a research career in industry. Additionally, I hadn't given much thought to entrepreneurship prior to joining the BLP program; after taking a few BLP courses and participating in some site visits, I began to think more seriously about pursuing my own start-up, to the extent that I've actively sought out advisers and investors who might be interested in some of my ideas. Lastly, I met a fantastic cohort of interdisciplinary and like-minded individuals who pushed me to branch out into fields that I had never considered before. Based on my experience in the BLP, I've chosen to pursue my postdoctoral research at the Wyss Institute at Harvard - a hub for biotechnological entrepreneurship, where I will explore some new and exciting projects at the interface of machine-learning and engineered cellular therapeutics.
It was absolutely a privilege to be part of the BLP during my Ph.D study. Among many things, I'm most grateful to the BLP program for providing me with the resources to secure an industry internship at a major pharmaceutical company in a field related to my thesis research. There, I learned how the skills I am developing in the lab can be applied in the industry and the type of research and projects that are carried out at a pharmaceutical company. Ultimately, these experiences solidified my desire to join an innovative, research-focused pharmaceutical company after my graduate study. Looking back, BLP became a major part of my graduate study experience, and I am grateful for the opportunity to meet so many of brilliant trainees and some wonderful program mentors!
Fellowships & Grants
- Andrey Vyatskikh: Resnick Sustainability Institute Fellowship (2018-2020)
- Rob Hurt: Caltech Center for Environmental Microbial Interactions (CEMI) Pilot Grant; $30,000/1 year-
- Vyatskikh et al. Additive manufacturing of titanium dioxide for dielectric photonic crystals. SPIE Photonics West 2019, San Francisco, CA, February 2019
- Vyatskikh et al. Additive manufacturing of 3D nano-architected metals, 2018 MRS Fall Meeting and Exhibit, Boston, MA, November 2018
- Knight, Anders; GRS Biocatalysis, University of New England – Biddeford (July 2018, oral presentation)
- Vyatskikh et al. Additive manufacturing of 3D nano-architected metals, TMS 2018 Annual Meeting and Exhibition, Phoenix, AZ, February 2018
- Silverman, Bradley; Kozlowski, Mark; Tirrell, David. “Genetically Programmable Microbial Assembly.” Frontiers in Molecular Engineering. 2018, Chicago, IL
- Silverman, Bradley; Kozlowski, Mark; Tirrell, David. Genetically Programmable Assembly of Microbial Communities for Enhanced Biosynthetic Efficiency. AICHE Annual Meeting. 2017, Minneapolis, MN
- Knight, Anders; Enzyme Engineering XXIV, Toulouse, France (September 2017, poster presentation)
Award: ACS best poster presentation
- Ruijie (Kelly) Zhang. BASF Research Forum, 2017 (Poster presentation)
- Ruijie (Kelly) Zhang. "Bridging Chemistry and Biology." Schwarzenberg Symposium, March 2017 (Oral presentation)
- Kevin Yang. “Machine Learning to Predict Eukaryotic Expression and Plasma Membrane Localization of an Integral Membrane Protein.” Proteins Gordon Research Seminar, June 2017 (Oral presentation)
- Brake, J. “Wavefront shaping in living tissue.” Advances In Optics For Biotechnology, Medicine And Surgery XV, Engineering Conferences International, 2017.
- Silverman, B.R.; Kozlowski, M.; Johnstone, C.; Tirrell, D.A. "Genetically Programmable Assembly of BioATOM and BioFARM Communities." DARPA BRICS PI Meeting, May 2017 (Poster presentation)
- Pradeep Ramesh. "Engineered biosynthesis of magnetic nanostructures in non-magnetic bacteria." World Molecular Imaging Congress Annual Meeting, September 2016. (Poster presentation)
- Z. Shao. “Discovering the mechanism of action of an ocular therapeutic peptide using transcriptomics and proteomics." 7th Annual Southern California Systems Biology Conference, January 2017 (Poster presentation)
- Kevin K. Yang, Claire N. Bedbrook, Austin J. Rice, Viviana Gradinaru, Frances H. Arnold. "Using Gaussian process models to predict channelrhodopsin plasma membrane localization." Southern California Machine Learning Symposium, Nov 2016 (Poster presentation; *Runner-up for best application)
- Farwell, C. C.; Zhang, R. K.; McIntosh, J. A.; Hyster, T. K.; Arnold, F. H. “Enantioselective enzyme-catalyzed aziridination enabled by active-site evolution of a cytochrome P450.” Metals in Biology Gordon Research Conference, January 2016. (Poster presentation)
- Ramesh, P. et. al. Engineered biosynthesis of magnetic nanostructures in non-magnetic bacteria. World Molecular Imaging Congress Annual Meeting, September 2016. (Poster presentation)
- Brake, Joshua, Mooseok Jang, and Changhuei Yang. "The relationship between decorrelation time and sample thickness in acute rat brain tissue slices." SPIE BiOS. International Society for Optics and Photonics, 2016. (Conference presentation)
- Zhang, Xuan and Vyatskikh, Andrey and Gao, Huajian et al. (2019) Lightweight, flaw-tolerant, and ultrastrong nanoarchitected carbon. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 116 (14). pp. 6665-6672. ISSN 0027-8424. http://resolver.caltech.edu/CaltechAUTHORS:20190318-133734983
- Vyatskikh, Andrey et al. (2019). Additive manufacturing of titanium dioxide for dielectric photonic crystals SPIE Proceedings Volume 10930, Advanced Fabrication Technologies for Micro/Nano Optics and Photonics XII; 109300H (2019)
- D. Maresca*, A. Lakshmanan*, M. Abedi, A. Bar-Zion, A. Farhadi, G.J. Lu, J.O. Szablowski, D. Wu, S. Yoo and M.G. Shapiro. Biomolecular ultrasound and sonogenetics. Annual Reviews in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, 9 (2018), 229-252. *Equal contribution. doi: 10.1146/annurev-chembioeng-060817-084034
- Vyatskikh, Andrey and Delalande, Stéphane and Kudo, Akira et al. (2018) Additive manufacturing of 3D nano-architected metals. Nature Communications, 9 . Art. No. 593. ISSN 2041-1723. PMCID PMC5807385. http://resolver.caltech.edu/CaltechAUTHORS:20180206-130051890
- Vyatskikh, Andrey and Kudo, Akira and Delalande, Stéphane et al. (2018) Additive Manufacturing of Polymer-Derived Titania for One-Step Solar Water Purification. Materials Today Communications, 15 . pp. 288-293. ISSN 2352-4928. http://resolver.caltech.edu/CaltechAUTHORS:20180308-103302974
- Brandenberg, O.F.; Prier, C.K.; Chen, K.; Knight, A.M.; Wu, Z.; Arnold, F.H. Stereoselective enzymatic synthesis of heteroatom-substituted cyclopropanes. ACS Catal. 2018, 8, 2629–2634. Press: this article was highlighted in Synfacts: List, B.; Grossmann, O. Synfacts 2018, 14, 0535.
- Knight, A.M.; Kan, S.B.J.; Lewis, R.D.; Brandenberg, O.F.; Chen, K.; Arnold, F.H. Diverse engineered heme proteins enable stereodivergent cyclopropanation of unactivated alkenes. ACS Cent. Sci. 2018, 4, 372–377.
- Rapp, Peter; Omar Ahmad; Silverman, Bradley; Wang, Zhen-Gang; Tirrell, David. “Mechanisms of Diffusion in Associative Poymer Networks: Evidence for Chain Hopping.” J. Am Chem Soc. 140(43) 14185-14194 (2018)
- Obana, Maiko; Silverman, Bradley; Tirrell, David. "Protein-Mediated Colloidal Assembly." J. Am Chem Soc 139(40): 14251-14256 (2017)
- Hammer, S.C., Knight, A.M. Arnold, F.H. Design and evolution of enzymes for non-natural chemistry. Curr. Opin. Green Sustain. Chem. 2017, 7, 23–30.
- A. Lakshmanan*, G. J. Lu*, A. Farhadi*, S. P. Nety*, M. Kunth, A. L-Gosselin, D. Maresca, R.W. Bourdeau, M. Yin, J. Yan, C. Witte, D. Malounda, F.S. Foster, L. Schröder and M.G. Shapiro. Preparation of biogenic gas vesicle nanostructures for use as contrast agents for ultrasound and MRI. Nature Protocols, 12 (2017), 2050-2080. *Equal contribution. doi: 10.1038/nprot.2017.081
- A. Lakshmanan, A. Farhadi, S. P. Nety, A. Lee-Gosselin, R. W. Bourdeau, D. Maresca and M. G. Shapiro, Molecular Engineering of Acoustic Protein Nanostructures. ACS Nano, 10 (2016) 7314-7322. Cover Article.
- Bedbrook, C. N., Rice, A. J., Yang, K. K., Ding, X., Chen, S., LeProust, E. M., Gradinaru, V., Arnold, F.H. (2017). Structure-guided SCHEMA recombination generates diverse chimeric channelrhodopsins. PNAS
- Obana, M.*; Silverman, B. R.*; Tirrell, D. A. “Protein Mediated Colloidal Assembly.” J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2017 139 (40), 14251-14256. *Authors contributed equally to this work
- Herwig, L. †; Rice, A. J. †; Bedbrook, C. N.; Zhang, R. K.; Lignell, A.; Cahn, J. K. B.; Renata, H.; Dodani, S. C.; Cho, I.; Cai, L.; Gradinaru, V.; Arnold, F. H. “Directed evolution of a bright near-infrared fluorescent rhodopsin using a synthetic chromophore,” Cell Chemical Biology, 2017, 24, 89–93. († denotes equal contribution)
- Prier, C. K. †; Zhang, R. K. †; Buller, A. R.; Brinkmann-Chen, S.; Arnold, F. H. “Enantioselective, intermolecular benzylic C–H amination catalysed by an engineered iron-haem enzyme,” Nature Chemistry, 2017, 9, 629–634. († denotes equal contribution)
- Qureshi, M. M.*, Brake, J.*, Jeon, H. J., Ruan, H., Liu, Y., Safi, A. M., Eom, T. J.,Yang, C., and Chung, E. "In vivo study of optical speckle decorrelation time across depths in the mouse brain." Biomedical Optics Express 8.11 (2017): 4855-4864.
- Zhou, E. H., Shibukawa, A., Brake, J., Ruan, H., Yang. “Glare suppression by coherence gated negation.” Optica 3.10, (2016): 1107-1113.
- Brake, Joshua, Mooseok Jang, and Changhuei Yang. "Analyzing the relationship between decorrelation time and tissue thickness in acute rat brain slices using multispeckle diffusing wave spectroscopy." JOSA A 33.2 (2016): 270-275.
- Davis, H.C*, Ramesh, P* et. al. Mapping the microscale origins of MRI contrast with Subcellular NV Diamond magnetometry, Submitted to Nature Methods, 2016. * Equal contribution
Honors & Awards
- Anupama Lakshmanan: Demetriades - Tsafka - Kokkalis Prize in Biotechnology or Related Fields (2019)
Clauser Doctoral Prize for the best PhD thesis at Caltech (2019)
- Andrey Vyatskikh: Caltech Art of Science Prize (2018)
- Andrey Vyatskikh: Semi-finalist of the Elsevier 3D Printing Grand Challenge (2017)
- Zixuan (Zach) Shao: President, Caltech Entrepreneurship Club
- Ruijie (Kelly) Zhang: Caltech Li Ming Award for 2015-2016, recognizing outstanding students of Chinese birth, decent or nationality.
- Andrey Vyatskikh et al., Additive manufacturing of architectured materials, U.S. Patent. No. US15/719,338, Assignee: Caltech
- Julia R. Greer, Andrey Vyatskikh, John S. Thorne, Akira Kudo, Kai Narita, Michael A. Citrin, Xuan Zhang, Three-Dimensional Architected Pyrolyzed Electrodes for Use in Secondary Batteries and Methods of Making Three-Dimensional Architected Electrodes, U.S. Patent No. US16/151,186, Assignee: Caltech
- Carlos M. Portela, Andrey Vyatskikh, and Julia R. Greer, Fabrication and Design of Composites with Architected Layers, U.S. Patent No. 16/206,163, Assignee: Caltech
In future years, this page will describe additional outcomes of our training program, including:
- Percentage of students who successfully attain a PhD
- Average number of publications per students graduated from PhD, including highlights on 1-2 publications
- Percentage of URM and students with disabilities in the program and graduated
- Statistics on fellowships and awards obtained by graduates and current trainees, including highlights of 1-2 awards
We are excited to share the results of our program, so be sure to check back often!