March 24, 2023

Student finds new career pathways through master’s program

Master of Biomedical Technology program cultivated interests Joice El Mehallawy had never thought of
Joice El Mehallawy
Joice El Mehallawy. Joice El Mehallawy

Like other University of Calgary science students in her class, Joice El Mehallawy had her sights set on medical school once she finished her Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology. 

“A lot of students go into the Faculty of Science and think that medicine is the only option for them,” says El Mehallawy. 

However, a professional program offered by UCalgary has opened up new doors and career pathways El Mehallawy had never even thought about. 

The Masters in Biomedical Technology (MBT) program is offered through the Cumming School of Medicine and is a one-year-long course-based program which provides students with an education in both the biotech and pharmaceutical industries. 

MBT students complete eight months of business and science coursework and then get 12 weeks of paid industry work experience. 

For El Mehallawy, who had been a part of the health innovation ecosystem as an undergraduate by competing in the Innovation4Health and NeuroNexus competitions, the MBT seemed like the ideal program. 

“I thought ‘This kind of combines everything that I’ve been doing in these competitions, but way more in-depth and I can get a master’s in this,’” says El Mehallawy.

She didn’t really know what to expect going into the program, and says the experience was different from the idea she had going in.

Joice El Mehallawy

Joice El Mehallawy.

Joice El Mehallawy

“I had this idea of what this was going to be like, but it was totally different,” says El Mehallawy. "It’s really fast paced and diverse. It gives you an opportunity to very broadly get a sense of all the career paths you can take in biotech."

The courses in the MBT program combine basic biomedical sciences with training in business aspects such as scientific, market, patent and financial analysis, topics not normally covered in just a science degree. 

Students also have the opportunity to interact with alumni, professors, and industry contacts who all have years of hands-on experience in the field and can guide students to the area they wish to pursue within biotechnology. 

El Mehallawy appreciated that the program gave students both a general view of the field as a whole and also multiple areas where they could pursue a specialization.

Not a lot of other careers can give you that much diversity and also give you that one area you can really excel in. 

For example, learning about intellectual property captured El Mehallawy’s attention, and it even has her considering a career in law, something that had never crossed her mind before. 

“It got me thinking there is this whole health sector that needs lawyers, and need the background to understand and bridge what people are talking about within health sciences,” she says. “It opened up new career paths for sure.”

Before graduating in November, El Mehallawy did her 12-week internship with Circle Cardiovascular Imaging, which provides the health sector with state-of-the-art technology to enhance acute stroke care. She worked in the regulatory affairs team, supporting efforts in strengthening the company's medical device regulatory approval process and optimizing their globalization strategy. 

“I’m comforted that I have this master’s degree that gives me the opportunity to explore all these options and has given me the ability to explore all these different careers that I couldn’t before.”

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