M.S. in Biotechnology leads to a rewarding career in stem cell research

Biotech expert Tori Sampsell

Tori Sampsell was successful in her human resources career, but it required her to relocate often. She decided to switch gears and focus on biology, a subject that fascinated her as an undergraduate. Thanks to University of Wisconsin–Madison’s Master of Science in Biotechnology Program, she transformed that interest into a career in an exciting and meaningful field: stem cell research.

The multidisciplinary M.S. in Biotechnology Program focuses on product development and technology-based entrepreneurship, combining the study of science, law, and business. Geared toward working professionals with busy schedules, including practicing scientists, technical professionals, attorneys, and businesspeople, the two-year program offers classes on evenings and weekends. Instructors include UW–Madison faculty and biotechnology leaders from private industry in the Madison area.

“The program fused science, business, and policy together for me. It helped me enter a field with limitless potential, equipped with the skills necessary to succeed,” Sampsell says.

An atmosphere of discovery

Courses on intellectual property, regulations and ethics, project management, and commercialization pathways prepared Sampsell for the business side of the biotechnology industry, while studying molecular technologies and early drug discovery gave her the scientific expertise she needed to thrive. She also benefited from honing her scientific communication skills and examining the political debate surrounding stem cell use.

Biotech expert Tori Sampsell
Tori Sampsell: ‘The program helped me enter a field with limitless potential.’

“Prior to the program, I had limited exposure to cutting-edge molecular biology. I learned a lot about new advances in molecular science, manufacturing, and techniques in drug discovery,” she says.

After graduating, Sampsell found work at WiCell, a nonprofit stem cell organization affiliated with UW–Madison. There she worked with James Thomson and Ren-He Xu, leaders in the field of embryonic stem cell research, to unlock the mysteries of stem cells. This work was deeply interesting, and it was easy to see its impact on medicine.

“We addressed questions that can help us understand human development and human disease and also aid other researchers who are working with adult and embryonic stem cells in regenerative medicine,” she says.

Now Sampsell is the vice president of product management at CultureTrax, a Cellara company that develops workflow solutions to tackle important issues limiting stem cell research.

Sampsell’s knowledge and professionalism helped her land this job, as did the confidence the M.S. in Biotechnology Program instilled.

“I feel confident in my abilities to translate innovation and discovery into quality of life,” she says.

Learn more about the Master of Science in Biotechnology Program. The program begins accepting applications for fall 2019 this October.