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Anthony Sherland '11MS

Research, Internships Give Biotechnology Graduate a Head Start in Field

When Anthony Sherland ’11MS first learned about the master’s degree program in biotechnology at St. John’s University, he thought it was the ideal path to realizing his professional goals.

 “All the other programs I looked at were geared to students who wanted to become professors or enter the academic world in some other capacity,” he said. “My goal was to work in the private sector. I wanted to find a school with a master’s degree program that gave me the option of pursuing a career in biotech research.”

Anthony chose St. John’s Master of Science Degree Program in Biological and Pharmaceutical Biotechnology. Offered by the University’s Institute for Biotechnology, it is designed to give students a thorough understanding of theory as well as hands-on research experience. The intensive curriculum prepares graduates for careers in clinical laboratories, biotechnology firms, large pharmaceuticals and small start-ups, as well as academic institutions.

As such, it was perfect for someone like Anthony, whose desire to be a medical treatment pioneer was shaped by his early experience. “There’s a lot of cancer, diabetes and heart disease in my family,” he said. “I wanted to use my aptitude in science to create new healthcare therapies for people like them.”  

Administered by the Office of the Provost, the Institute draws professors from St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.

What Anthony didn’t anticipate were the other benefits he received from the program. “My education was so thorough,” he said, “that I draw on what I learned every day as a quality assurance analyst at Domino Foods, Inc.” Developing relationships with administrators and faculty, he also took advantage of the University’s alumni network. These contacts enabled him to land a useful internship and competitive jobs.

He credits his internship at IRX Therapeutics — a leader in the development of cancer therapies — to Diana Bartelt, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Biological Sciences and Internship Coordinator for the Institute for Biotechnology. “Her recommendation carried a lot of weight,” he said, “because she was the director of the Institute at that time.”

Not only was Anthony the first Institute student to intern at IRX, which strengthened his résumé, but he also gained additional research experience, including his first exposure to working with live animals. For Dr. Bartelt, the payoff came when Anthony’s supervisor gave him — and St. John’s — high praise for adding value to the work being done by the company’s research and development department.

“I will always be grateful to Dr. Bartelt,” Anthony said. “She went out of her way to create opportunities for her students through alliances with local biotechnology firms.” In fact, Anthony was also able to land a six-month position at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc., because the well-known biotechnology company was impressed by the performance of the student interns from the Institute.  

“There’s no doubt that attending St. John’s provided the tools and accreditation I needed to be able to achieve my professional goals,” Anthony said. “But the support I got from Dr. Bartelt is just as valuable. Her belief in me has inspired me to always fulfill my potential and work to the best of my ability.”