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Beyond the Lab

Undergrad Summer Program

BALSA: The Biotechnology and Life Science Advising Group

The BALSA group is a nonprofit organization operated entirely by graduate students, professional students and postdoctoral researchers from Washington University. Its mission is to provide participants with valuable real-world business experience via short-term consulting projects with local companies.

The Balsa Group adds a really unique dimension to the graduate training curriculum. And DBBS embraces that.

Balsa stands for the biotechnology and life science advising group, and that represents, sort of, our core competencies as a group of students.

The initial inspiration of the Balsa Group was this need for students to experience other things than just the lab.

Thinking about science from a business perspective is invaluable. That real world business experience is something that's completely unique, that I never would have had the chance to do without Balsa.

And that's really a testament to the culture we have here at WashU.

And then, the second reason for starting Balsa was the realization that there's actually quite a few biotechnology and life science start up companies in St. Louis. And one of the common threads among all of these companies is that their capital restricted and resource restricted.

We provide business support, as well as small grant funding to help get their ideas off the ground. And that's really unique about the program here at DBBS.

I think that anyone that's interested in Balsa really should give it a try. Even if you're not sure that you want to pursue an non-academic career, or you don't know if it's the right fit for you. Because it lets you try out something new. Make the most of that opportunity. And then make a decision if a non-traditional career path is right for you, or you can take what you've learned and apply it to your academic research.