Master of Science in Translational Research (MSTR) Entrepreneurial Science

Navigate Master of Science in Translational Research

The MSTR Concentration in Entrepreneurial Science is designed for students who aim to navigate both business and academic environments. This concentration offers trainees the opportunity to translate biomedical research into innovative solutions and to develop approaches to commercialization. Graduates of the program are expected to have a more robust entrepreneurial mindset coupled with tangible skills to bring biomedical research to market. The program is designed to support a trainee as they acquire skills in key aspects of: 1) Needs assessment, 2) Idea development, 3) Scientific methodology, and 4) Approaches to commercialization.

Entrepreneurial Science Concentration Director: Nalaka Gooneratne, MD, MSc


Term Courses
Summer Year 1

MTR 6020: Proposal Development

MTR 6010: Review Writing (or EntSci elective for postdocs)

Fall Year 1

MTR 6000: Introductory Biostatistics

MTR 6030: Disease Measurement

MTR 6400: Entrepreneurial Science Seminar (Part I)

Spring Year 1

MTR 6040: Scientific and Ethical Conduct

HCMG 867: Healthcare Entrepreneurship

Summer Year 2

MTR 6050: Data Manuscript Writing

MTR 9999: Lab

Fall Year 2

EntSci Elective

MTR 9999: Lab

Spring Year 2 MTR 6070:  Thesis Credit
MTR 6080:  Thesis Credit
(including commercialization plan)


Required Entrepreneurial Science Courses

MTR 640 Entrepreneurial Science Seminar: This course reviews a broad range of topics related to establishing a successful career as an academic entrepreneur. The goal is to help students successfully navigate both business and academic environments as they conduct research on their concept, and consider commercialization opportunities.

HCMG 867 Healthcare Entrepreneurship: The goal of the course is to give students the hands-on experience of establishing and operating an early-stage healthcare or life sciences business by, among other things, working as part of a mentored group to craft and defend a business plan based on an actual technology or service in the space (defined as therapeutics, diagnostics, medical devices, or digital health services).

Suggested Electives

MSTR-EntSci student mentoring will mirror that for traditional MSTR students with a key inclusion of a business mentor. At the time of matriculation into the MSTR, a mentorship team is formed for each student.  The composition of the team is determined by the research project and is typically composed of the primary research mentor, a secondary mentor, a biostatistics mentor, a MSTR program mentor, and a business mentor. This team serves as an ongoing monitoring group for the student's progress.  Its members are faculty with expertise relevant to both the basic and clinical aspects of the candidate’s research and each is expected to contribute their expertise to fostering the candidate’s research progress. The business mentor will provide their expertise to develop the mentee’s ability to effectively communicate his/her scientific ideas in a business context and navigate the field. An additional area of focus for the mentoring team is to cultivate the student’s skills to be an effective member of a research team and impart approaches to leading a research team.

Business Mentorship

The business mentor is a unique addition to the traditional MSTR Mentor Committee. The business mentor will participate in the mentoring committee meetings throughout the duration of the program and hold periodic meetings with the student individually. The role of the business mentor is to guide, train, advise, and promote the career development of the student. This may include:

  • Provide business related expertise
  • Work to develop the mentee’s ability to effectively communicate his/her scientific ideas in a business context
  • Assist the mentee in identifying opportunities and avoiding threats to his/her future success (i.e. IP considerations, market analysis, cost-benefit analysis)
  • Support the mentee’s development of confidence and expertise to navigate within the business realm
  • Help identify learning opportunities and key steps tailored to the mentee’s goal (i.e. funding, project development, internships, collaborations, identifying skills and gaps)

ITMATEd is building a community to support trainees with entrepreneurial goals. This consists of resources, team mentoring, a network of entrepreneurial peers and faculty, and the robust Penn ecosystem.

Academic Entrepreneurship Blog and E-Book

The Academic Entrepreneurship Blog was expanded and published into an e-book, Academic Entrepreneurship for Medical and Health Scientists, which serves as a repository of tools, wisdom and best practice that seeks to democratize innovation regardless of where the academic researcher resides. There are more than 50 chapters of material, divided across the five major sections: Academia, People, Ideation, IP/Reg, and Finance.

Innovation Mixers

Innovation Mixers are designed to facilitate multi-disciplinary team building relevant to life sciences entrepreneurship and training. The ITMAT Education program has piloted the development of a monthly networking event in partnership with multiple other Schools (Wharton Business, Law, Design, Engineering, Education, and Dental). As part of the registration process for Innovation Mixers attendees indicate their expertise and specific domains in which they require assistance. A software application (InnoMix) developed for the Innovation Mixers then pairs individuals in a series of four to six meetings (analogous to speed dating) held at the Mixer, each lasting 15 minutes, thus providing attendees with a unique opportunity to meet others who could help them fill gaps in their team.  

On Campus Education, Resources, and Activities related to Entrepreneurial Science


Penn Medicine/PSOM







External Opportunities

  • The Science Center’s QED Proof-of-Concept Program seeks QED Fellows with an interest in the life sciences and related technologies to assist in developing commercially focused projects at selected universities and other research organizations in the Greater Philadelphia Region. The QED Program provides mentorship and funding to R&D projects to demonstrate the commercial feasibility of early-stage life science technologies. Working under the direction of QED Business Advisors (industry professionals and entrepreneurs) and with program personnel, research scientists, and Technology Transfer Offices, QED Fellows will help guide the development of R&D proposals for projects that are designed to retire business risk, thereby enabling follow-on commercialization through licensing or investment in new companies. Candidates will apply for the QED Fellow role through a formal application process.
  • Chestnut Street Ventures, a venture fund composed of Penn alumni investing together into Penn alumni-led companies, has created a Venture Fellow Program to provide Penn alumni with the opportunity to gain increased exposure to the world of venture capital. The program allows participants to experience the entire lifecycle of a venture fund: raising capital, investor relations, deal sourcing, diligence, and making investments. No prior experience in venture capital is required and there is no financial cost to those who are selected to join the program.  In order to apply, applicants must complete a formal submission process through the fellow portal.
  • Additional industry internships are available.

Caroline Gluck, M.D.
CHOP Nephrology Fellow

Primary Research Mentor: Katalin Susztak, M.D., Ph.D.
Project Title: Do Epigenetic Changes in Patients with Minimal Change Disease Predict Steroid Responsiveness?
Project Description: Epigenetics refers to changes in gene expression patterns that are not caused by alterations in the nucleotide sequence itself. This project will investigate epigenetic changes that occur in patients with minimal change disease (nephrotic syndrome), aiming to use this information to develop diagnostic reagents that will predict steroid responsiveness.

Lindsey George, M.D.
CHOP Hematology Instructor

Primary Research Mentor: Rodney Camire, Ph.D.
Project Title: Zymogen-like Factor Xa Variant as Novel Warfarin Reversal Strategy: Pre-clinical Evaluation and Mechanism of Action
Project Description: Warfarin is the most commonly used anticoagulant and is very effective at preventing blood clots, but is associated with bleeding side effects that can be fatal. Currently there are no medications that reliably improve outcome when these bleeding events occur. This project is studying a recently developed molecule called Factor XaI16L that may prove to be more effective at reversing warfarin and may provide insight into how blood clots are formed.

Amelia Keaton, M.D.
CHOP Infectious Diseases Fellow

Primary Research Mentor: David Weiner, Ph.D.
Project Title: Development of a Synthetic DNA Vaccine Against Influenza
Project Description: Despite worldwide vaccination efforts, the influenza virus remains a significant cause of illness and death. Constant genetic change requires that new vaccines be created each season for influenza, yet current vaccines fail to induce immunity against a wide variety of influenza strains. The goal of this project is to develop an alternative influenza vaccine that uses synthetic DNA technology to protect patients from a wide range of influenza viruses.

Helge Hartung, M.D.
CHOP Hematology Assistant Professor

Primary Research Mentor: Mortimer Poncz, M.D.
Project Title: Development of an Automated Bone Marrow Device in Order to Improve the Quality of Diagnostic Bone Marrow Aspirates and Biopsies, Decrease Procedure Times, and Improve Clinical Outcomes for Patients with Leukemia and Other Blood Disorders
Project Description: More than 50% of all childhood cancers require a bone marrow evaluation as part of their work-up. To perform a bone marrow evaluation, bone marrow aspiration and biopsy needles are pushed or drilled into the marrow space by the physician performing the procedure. The goal of this project is to improve this procedure by developing an automated penetration device that allows the user to get better specimens faster, resulting in fewer adverse effects for the patient and cost savings for the public.

Amanda Ackermann, M.D., Ph.D.
CHOP Endocrinology and Diabetes Instructor

Primary Research Mentor: Klaus Kaestner, Ph.D.
Project Title: Generating a Human Beta Cell Line
Project Description: Diabetes is caused by insufficient insulin produced by pancreatic beta cells, and beta cell transplantation is a promising therapy. Unfortunately, human beta cells are in short supply and have been very difficult to culture in vitroThe goal of this project is to generate a new self-propagating and functional human beta cell line from primary pancreatic tissue surgically resected from patients undergoing pancreatectomy for hyperinsulinism.

Máire Abraham Conrad, M.D., M.S.
CHOP Gastroenterology Instructor

Primary Research Mentor: Marcella Devoto, Ph.D.
Project Title: Characterization of Intestinal Microbiome in Very Early Onset InflammatoryBowel Disease (VEO-IBD)
Project Description: Inflammatory bowel disease diagnosed in children less than 5 years old is a distinct, rare yet growing entity known as very early onset inflammatory bowel disease (VEO-IBD), with strong genomic contributors, and occasionally monogenic gene defects,that confer a heterogeneous IBD phenotype. The rapidly increasing incidence and prevalence of VEO-IBD supports the hypothesis that the environmental factors and the microbiome contribute to this phenotype. This project aims to describe the microbiome of patients with VEO-IBD and assess the interaction between host genetics with taxonomic dysbiosis in order to provide the groundwork for creating diagnostic testing to identify dysbiosis specific to certain immune defects associated with VEO-IBD.

Brian Jenssen, M.D., M.S.H.P.
CHOP General Pediatrics Instructor

Primary Research Mentor: Alexander Fiks, M.D., M.S.C.E.
Project Title: Clinical Decision Support Tool for Parental Tobacco Treatment in Primary Care
Project Description: Secondhand smoke (SHS) exposure is a significant public health problem in that it both harms children and is widely prevalent, affecting more than 40% of US children. Pediatricians are uniquely positioned to educate and motivate parents towards protecting their children from SHS, and health information systems, such as electronic health records (EHRs) and clinical decision support (CDS) systems, can improve the quality and standardization of clinical interventions for tobacco use. This project expands upon pilot work to further refine and more rigorously evaluate a tobacco treatment CDS tool integrated within the EHR to increase delivery of smoking cessation treatment to parents in the context of their child’s medical visit.

Ari Wes, B.A.

Perelman School of Medicine M.D. Candidate

Primary Research Mentor: Jesse Taylor, M.D.
Project Title: An Assessment of Forces in Craniofacial Distraction Osteogenesis and the Development of a Novel Distraction System
Project Description: Distraction represents a critical tool in the craniofacial armamentarium, but it has significant limitations that prevent its widespread adoption. One of the most profound limitations, and a feature seen in all currently available distractors, is the external component that protrudes through the patient's skins to allow for manual engagement of the device. The goal of this project is to gain a better of understanding of the forces required throughout the distraction period to inform the development of a novel, fully implantable distraction system.