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Alumni Profile
said. "I find it super easy to relate to the
manufacturing associates because I did it
for so long."
"Bob Kenyon is the prime example of how far
a Middlesex Biotech graduate can go," said
Dr. Mariluci Bladon, Biotechnology Program
Coordinator. The program in which Kenyon
enrolled 21 years ago continues to be a
popular and practical choice for students
intrigued by science, she added.
"Interest in the program has increased
significantly," said Bladon. "Every day we are
accepting new students, and they are aware
of how strong our program is. Once they
graduate, we are proud to have 100 percent
placement in the biotech industry."
Displayed prominently on the front of
Kenyon's desk at Biogen headquarters is a
large, magnetic red, white and blue pinstriped
ALS awareness ribbon. Scientists at Biogen
work every day to develop new and better
treatments for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
(ALS), a disease that took the life of Kenyon's
brother Bill in March. He was 53-years-old
and his death had a profound impact on
both Kenyon's personal and professional lives.
"It suddenly became very real to me, what
we do every day," he said. "I had access to
world-renowned experts in the field and I
learned everything I could about the disease."
Working in pharmaceutical development and
manufacturing, Kenyon often heard people
complain it took too long to move drugs
from development, through clinical trials and
regulatory hurdles, to market. Rationally, he
knew it was a complex process there is a
lot of biology involved.
"I know it is actually striking how quickly
we work to get drugs to patients, but it is too
slow for some," he said. "It was too slow for
my brother and for the first time I felt that in
a very real way."
Bill's death changed the way Bob Kenyon
approached his work. "It was profound for
me. I had a new commitment to timelines,"
he said.
Kenyon has seen the biotech industry grow
dramatically in the last two decades, from a
boutique industry to one of massive global
proportions. When he started at Biogen,
the company had 250 employees. That
number has grown to 7,500 with locations in
Cambridge, North Carolina, Denmark and
soon Switzerland.
"The increased quality of life we have been
able to give patients living with diseases
like MS was unimaginable 20 years ago," he
said. "The impact of biotech on the world has
been extraordinary and it will only get more
dramatic in the next 10 years."
Kenyon added he would love to see Biogen
be the company that cracks Alzheimer's
disease, an ailment he says will see
significant advances in treatment in the
next few years.
He urges today's biotechnology students
to work in manufacturing if they are
interested in the engineering side of things
because, "Knowing the business from
the operations side is paramount to
being a successful engineer."
For those interested in the research laboratory
side of the business, he suggests staying in
school, earning post-graduate degrees and
building their academic backgrounds.
And on a larger scale, Kenyon takes great
pride in the work Biogen IDEC has done in
the last two decades, developing and
manufacturing drugs that have changed
the lives of millions of patients.
"No one would think that is what is going on
in this two-story building on the corner of
Binney Street," he said.
Jennifer Myers
Kenyon describes biotechnology manufacturing as "the intersection of biology
and engineering."
"(The Biotechnology Certificate Program)
was a small group of students, we all got
to know each other well. The foundation
we received was very helpful. It was set
up to really help us understand what is
done in the business."
Vice President of Manufacturing, Biogen IDEC