Dr. Billyana Tsvetanova
Meet Dr. Billyana Tsvetanova, MiraCosta College’s new biomanufacturing professor charged with leading the development and instruction of MiraCosta’s groundbreaking bachelor’s degree program in biomanufacturing.
“It’s very exciting and a great opportunity,” said Dr. Tsvetanova, who has spent the past 14 years as a scientist at some of the leading research institutions in the nation. “I’m looking forward to working with students who are motivated to having an impact in the biotechnology industry and making an impact in the local workforce.”
Born and raised in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia, Dr. Tsvetanova earned her master’s degree in biochemistry and molecular biology from Sofia University and her Ph.D. in biochemistry from State University of New York at Syracuse. She came to San Diego as a postdoctoral fellow at the Scripps Research Institute, where she worked on establishing the molecular mechanism of the anthrax toxin gene expression. Nearly four years later, Dr. Tsvetanova joined a Carlsbad biotech firm then known as Invitrogen, which later became Life Technologies, as a staff scientist, a role in which she successfully launched numerous products during her five years at the firm.
In 2012, Dr. Tsvetanova was hired as a senior scientist at Synthetic Genomics, a La Jolla-based company where she worked on technology and product development in the area of DNA assembly, and other cutting edge technologies. That was followed by a stint at Illumina, where she worked as a senior scientist in new product development using next-generation sequencing technology.
“Dr. Tsvetanova’s experience in product development is ideal for our new program since she brings deep experience across the product lifecycle of research, development, and production,” said Mike Fino, the Dean of Mathematics and Science who himself once worked as a researcher and process engineer at a Torrey Pine-s based bioengineering firm on the cutting edge of regenerative medicine. “Our degree program recognizes the unique biotechnology production environment where manufacturing science thrives with quality and regulation. Dr. Tsvetanova's professional experience in product development gives her keen insight into the commercialization of a product. She was truly the needle in the haystack that we hoped to find through our recent recruitment and we are thrilled to have her join the MiraCosta faculty to lead our biomanufacturing program.”
Her impact promises to be profound.
The biomanufacturing program is aimed at setting students up for state-of-the-art work in the thriving manufacturing sector of the biotechnology industry. MiraCosta was among one of just 15 community colleges that in 2015 secured the green light from the California Community Colleges’ Board of Governors to host a pilot bachelor’s degree program in career technical fields for the first time in history.
The biomanufacturing degree builds upon the MiraCosta College’s existing biotechnology program, which already offers three certificates and one associate degree. Upper-division course work will comprise two primary areas of concentration: Biomanufacturing Science & Technology and Biomanufacturing Quality. Applications will be accepted this fall semester for the baccalaureate program, which launches in the fall of 2017.
Several biotechnology companies in the area supported MiraCosta College’s bachelor’s degree program – including Genentech, Gilead Sciences, Inc., and Thermo Fisher Scientific (the latter of which later acquired Life Technologies).
Dr. Tsvetanova, whose parents were respected chemical engineers in her native Bulgaria, said her new role marks a shift from her experience as a leading biotechnology researcher, but it is one that she relishes. “I want to share my experiences and help others develop and grow,” she said. “It is an honor to be working with MiraCosta College in developing a strong workforce and preparing our students to work in this cutting-edge industry.”