Moving away from Bangladesh to study an MSc in Biotechnology and Enterprise at Manchester

Nusrat Rouf is a Bangladesh national and had lived in Dhaka all her life before moving to Manchester to complete a master’s in Biotechnology and Enterprise. Her motivation to travel to a whole new continent was to try and gain the expertise required to help improve healthcare back home. Now after graduating, find out if the course met her expectations and discover what she’s doing now…


My background

Prior to joining the University of Manchester’s Biotechnology and Enterprise MSc programme, I had graduated with a Distinction during my Bachelor’s in Biochemistry & Biotechnology from North South University, Dhaka and had experience working in a Molecular Biology lab..

What inspired you to choose MSc Biotech and Enterprise?

As far back as I can remember, I have always been inquisitive, and a love for the life sciences came naturally to me. As I came to maturation, I was confronted by the lack of jobs in my native Bangladesh despite the mass of talented young people I know who live here.

Recognising the need in the country for improved healthcare and better diagnostics, with the attendant benefits that would have for reducing unemployment, it became obvious to me to pursue a career in biotechnology to gain the skills needed to solve the healthcare and economic challenges facing my community.

Very important to me also, is my desire to encourage young girls to pursue careers in STEM through my example and mentoring. Thus, naturally, an interdisciplinary programme like the MSc in Biotechnology & Enterprise was the best fit for me considering all my motivations and career goals.

As to why Manchester, I had fallen in love with the city of Manchester years before when I first visited in 2012 and when I found the University of Manchester had the programme I wanted, it was a no-brainer to come here.


Highlights and challenges

I was very elated to discover that I was the first Bangladeshi to study MSc Biotechnology & Enterprise which encouraged me to go extra miles to make myself a venerable trailblazer.  I stepped up to serve as a student representative and tried to help out my classmates with regards to getting updates on coursework and providing feedback to the professors.

I was fortunate to have had a very smooth journey throughout the course and I am very thankful to all the professors including our programme director, Dr. Anil Day, and our deputy programme director, Dr. Maggy Fostier. Their meticulous efforts in making our lives easier and ensuring that we got the maximum benefits from the course were much appreciated by my fellow students and I.

The biggest challenge for me was time management initially as I was just settling down in a new city and being away from family for the first time ever. It took me some time also to adapt to the business module as I was completely a science student all my life with zero knowledge in business. Within the first semester I had easily overcome these challenges and started to have a great time studying and living in Manchester.


Course content

The course is extremely well designed and, for me, it was like having the best of both worlds. We got to study sufficient concepts in advanced biotechnology, genome engineering, intellectual property while also being trained to become entrepreneurs at the same time through the commercialisation in life sciences module. At the same time we got hands on research experience while doing a six months long research project.

As a result of the course content, I now have multiple career options. In fact, I started getting job offers from countries like Japan and Singapore while I was just a student of this programme! After graduation, I have gained the option to stay in research and academia or choose to work in industry and I believe this is great.

The course has been very influential in my career development. I got to meet and work with brilliant people during the programme and also had a great deal of networking opportunities. Essentially, this course taught me how to execute my passion and make it into reality.


Post graduation life

I had my graduation ceremony six months ago and ever since I have been actively taking part in business competitions, and receiving various job and internship offers. I have since co-founded a Biotechnology start-up named Biomasys with a friend and course mate from the programme, Mkpouto Pius, and David Ejim, a friend from Nigeria.

The mission of Biomasys is to develop rapid and affordable diagnostics, making use of disease biomarkers and artificial intelligence. Recently, I was awarded the Nick Sanders Kickstarter prize for another project, ‘VertPack’, which I co-founded with a friend in Bangladesh. ‘

‘VertPack’ is a biodegradable product line which we plan to commercialise soon. Apart from these ventures, I have received an offer to study a PhD in Biotechnology at the University of Cambridge. I plan to carry on with my ventures and pursue my PhD at the same time. This course has really taught me how to manage time efficiently as well as providing me with the skills needed to pursue these ventures.

Advice for prospective students

I would suggest that prospective students first of all determine what they’re passionate about and if it intersects with the many skills that they’d gain from this programme then they must take full advantage of it. They must work on their networking skills and manage time wisely to fully enjoy the rich content of the programme. I wish them well.

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