michael sinclair

What is your current position and what do you do?

Director of Business Development at Osiris Therapeutics—I am leading the development of our late-stage product pipeline and the launch of a new surgical salesforce for the company. My responsibilities include creating the strategic vision and business plan for current and new products, developing marketing materials for the salesforce, serving as a product specialist, and initiating clinical collaborations with key opinion leaders. I started at Osiris as a Scientist in R&D, where I helped develop multiple products and then began to work on the early-stage pipeline. Recently, I transitioned to Business Development as we expanded our pipeline into new surgical specialties.

What prompted you to pursue an undergraduate degree in biomedical engineering?

I think I was influenced by my mother. She was a pediatric nurse for many years and always had anatomy and physiology books around the house. Many years ago, when she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, I became especially fascinated with the immune system and autoimmune disorders.

When did you know you were interested in graduate studies? Did anything at UT Austin prompt you to do research?

When I started at UT Austin, I was considering medical school as one career path. However, I soon decided that I was more interested in technology creation and product design than patient care. So, I became involved in undergraduate research. I spent two semesters in Dr. Georgiou’s lab and one semester in Dr. Tunnell’s lab looking for what interested me the most. Before my final year at UT Austin, I was fortunate to be accepted to a summer study-abroad research program in Dublin, Ireland, called UREKA (Undergraduate Research Experience and Knowledge Award). I spent the entire summer working in the Immunology Department at Trinity College Dublin. It was this experience that convinced me to pursue graduate school. In my last year at UT, I worked in the lab of Dr. Nicholas Peppas to complete my undergraduate research thesis for Plan II, which is where I found my love of biomaterials and drug delivery.

What were our most influential courses/research experiences/professors?

I had so many great professors and courses at UT, it is hard to choose. Dr. Diller’s heat transfer course was the most humbling, yet entertaining course I took at UT! I think my senior thesis project in Dr. Peppas’ lab was the most influential, as it started my interest in biomaterials and drug delivery, which I pursued at Duke.

What were some of your most memorable experiences in BME?

Spending time at Dr. Diller’s Ranch and riding the fire truck! I think for me what is memorable is how far the BME Department has come since its inception. The department didn’t always have its own building. We were nestled on the 6th floor of ECE with unfinished walls, cramped labs, and no computer lab of our own. I remember when our senior graduating class had the chance to tour the not-yet-finished BME building on Dean Keaton. It was a nice gesture to let our class know that we were part of the growth of the young department.

What can students focus on to improve themselves as potential candidates for jobs?

If you are an undergraduate looking to enter the job market, be humble and willing to work hard. Find opportunities to do research or internships, as these will be the most valuable parts of your resume to get an interview. But once you have an interview, it’s not so much about what you have accomplished, it’s about how you accomplished tasks and how you worked with others to achieve goals. If you plan to pursue an engineering career, be sure you know the technical details of your internships, but also be sure you know the big picture—the “Why” behind the project. If you plan to pursue a non-engineering career, don’t forget that you are an engineer—use that to your advantage and never forget it.

If you are a graduate student looking to enter the job market, be humble and willing to work hard! Just because you spent, two, four, or more years doing advanced research doesn’t always mean you will do the same exciting work on day 1 in industry. If you want to pursue a career in industry, take time to learn the lingo—Quality Control, Quality Assurance, Regulatory, Marketing, Validation, Qualification, 510K, PMA, BLA, HCT/P, etc. This will set you apart from most candidates, and help you determine what jobs to apply to.