Building a legal career in Silicon Valley with an M.S. in Biotechnology

Gabe Gross felt the pull of career opportunities in California’s Silicon Valley for more than a decade, but he didn’t make the leap until he completed the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s Master of Science in Biotechnology Program.

After completing his bachelor’s and law degrees at UW–Madison, Gross entered the M.S. in Biotechnology Program’s first class in 2002. When he finished his master’s, the Silicon Valley law firm Quinn Emanuel Urquart Oliver & Hedges recruited him. He’s now a partner at Latham & Watkins, where he specializes in patent infringement and other intellectual property issues.

Leveling the playing field

Gabe Gross, graduate of the MS in Biotechnology Program
Gabe Gross: ‘The program leveled the playing field for me.’

Centered on technology-based entrepreneurship and product development, the M.S. in Biotechnology Program immerses students in science, business, and law over the course of two years. Attorneys, business people, scientists, and other busy professionals benefit from a flexible schedule of evening and weekend classes taught by UW–Madison faculty and leaders of Madison-area biotech companies.

Gross chose UW–Madison’s program to become conversant in biotechnology language and better understand some of the industry’s most complex issues. He also knew that the need for intellectual property experts would grow as the biotech industry matured, and that the program could help him thrive in this specialty.

“When there are breakthroughs in science, there are primary legal concerns, including patent infringements,” he explains. “And when you are competing with lawyers for a position that focuses on intellectual property and biotechnology, you need a level playing field. The M.S. in Biotechnology Program leveled the playing field for me.”

Making an impact nationally

UW-Madison law professor Alta Charo
Alta Charo: ‘The seeds for Gabe’s success were planted in Wisconsin.’

Gross’s biotechnology studies also helped him contribute to national discussions on topics such as stem cell research, which he explored in a 2002 article for the university’s law review. As his biotech expertise began to stretch beyond Wisconsin’s borders, his mentors from UW–Madison took note.

“I was at a press conference with Sen. Orrin Hatch, and he cited Gabe’s research,” says Prof. Alta Charo, who teaches in the Wisconsin Law School and is a founding faculty member of the MS in Biotechnology program. “The seeds for his success were planted in Wisconsin.”

Learn more about the Master of Science in Biotechnology Program. The program will accept applications for fall 2019 through May 1, 2019, or until the student cohort is full.