Patrick Johnson

It seems fitting that a former musician can appreciate the wondrous language of science. “It's the language we use to communicate objectively about the world's form and function,” says Master of Biological Sciences graduate Patrick Johnson. Like music, science can be a universal way to uncover and convey certain truths.

“There are amazing patterns that exist in the molecular arrangements and energy balances that constitute living systems,” Johnson continues. “These are incredible miracles that so many people take for granted, and learning the language of science allows us to communicate with one another about our astonishing world.”

The Right Fit

Patrick Johnson

Our astonishing world is inhabited by astonishing human bodies with weaknesses, strengths, and the ability to change, and oftentimes, get better. Johnson is fascinated by “how the human body is in a state of constant, dynamic interaction with the environment.”

As an undergraduate, he studied biology with an emphasis in neuroscience, and wanted to build upon that knowledge in a master’s program. He had also always been interested in physiology, immunology, and microbiology—key pieces in the larger human body puzzle. The MBS degree allowed him to elect coursework based on these unique professional interests.  

“I needed to reassemble a strong resume by pursuing a cohesive academic program that was immediately applicable to my desired profession in biotechnology.”

The Right Insight

And so he did. Today, Johnson works at a biologics manufacturing facility owned by Takeda Pharmaceuticals. “I wanted to get a job in biotechnology making compounds that improve people's lives,” he says. “My advisor, Anke Reinders, and I were able to design a degree program that heavily emphasized microbiology and biotechnology, and this coursework helped me get hired at Takeda.”

"Learning the language of science allows us to communicate with one another about our astonishing world.”

Johnson helps create a life-changing drug called Entyvio (trade name for the monoclonal antibody vedolizumab), which decreases intestinal inflammation in people suffering from ulcerative colitis and Crohn's Disease.

His customized MBS degree helped prepare him for the challenges of working in the biotech industry.

“I have learned to appreciate not only the complex ways that our immune system communicates with our microbiome, but I have also gained a better understanding of the tools and techniques that allow scientists to understand the relationship in the first place.”

Memorable Courses

  • Microbial Genomics
  • Introduction to Computing for Biologists

“Both courses offered insight into the statistical/computational methods by which modern microbiologists are able to characterize the microbes they're studying.”

Pro Tips for Students

“Ask yourself frequently whether the course you are taking has a specific application moving you towards your profession. Take advantage of the advisors at CCAPS and the career services at the U of M to make sure you're getting the most out of your degree.”