Mount Marty to Lead Biotech Growth, Launches First Masters Program in the Dakotas

July 11, 2023

Mount Marty University (MMU) will launch the first Master of Science in Biotechnology program in the Dakotas, a region top-ranked for industry growth. The one-year, 30-credit program will welcome its first cohort of 30 students this fall, focusing on biotech management in pharmaceuticals and generating future industry leaders.

"We're thrilled about the opportunity to make a footprint in this industry," said MMU President Dr. Marc Long. "We understand that leaders come from anywhere and look forward to nurturing and growing anyone interested in becoming a leader in the biotechnology industry." 

With the option to enroll online or in person at MMU-Sioux Falls, the program has drawn a competitive mix of recent undergraduates and mid-level pharmaceutical executives nationwide.

Students from science and business backgrounds with varying levels of degrees may apply and will benefit from the experience of industry veterans while preparing to take their place as the next generation of biotech leaders.

"This gives us an opportunity to have very real conversations among differing opinions in the industry, and I think that's important for all our students," says Dr. Mark Brown, who was initially contracted to develop the program and now serves as its Executive Director.

Dr. Brown has nearly 20 years of experience in organizational management, drug development, and biomanufacturing. He has served in a range of executive roles and on teams that produced the world's first Ebola therapeutic and the vaccines pivotal in fighting the H1N1 and COVID-19 pandemics.

As the pharmaceutics industry continues to grow and change in the United States, tapping into the current industry and its network will be vital to the future of healthcare and national security. The program is unique in that it is the only biotechnology degree taught entirely by industry professionals, whose experience ranges from Pfizer to the FDA and the Department of Defense.

"Mount Marty University's investment in an MS in Biotechnology degree is a strong statement of the growing biotech industry in South Dakota. We are excited about the opportunity this provides students from across the state and the nation to learn and train in this exciting field,” said Executive Director of South Dakota Biotech, Joni Ekstrum.

While being Catholic is not a requirement for any MMU student, Dr. Brown looks forward to the program being taught in a way that "makes sure we're doing everything for the right reasons."
"Having it at a Catholic Benedictine institution that prides itself in an ethical approach to everything that they do and respects those fundamental human values and service to our community is the type of foundation we need to ensure that we have a properly grounded program," said Dr. Brown.

MMU's biotech program is just one of a growing suite of graduate-level health science programs focused on benefiting human life, providing access to life-saving healthcare, and curbing global health disparities. For more information on MMU’s current MSN programs, visit

About Mount Marty University
Founded in 1936 by the Sisters of Sacred Heart Monastery, Mount Marty University is South Dakota's only Catholic, Benedictine institution of higher education. Located along the bluffs of the Missouri River in Yankton, with additional locations in Watertown and Sioux Falls, Mount Marty offers undergraduate and graduate degrees focusing on student and alumni success in high-demand fields such as health scienceseducationcriminal justicebusinessaccountingrecreation management, and more. A community of learners in the Benedictine tradition, Mount Marty emphasizes academic excellence and develops well-rounded students with intellectual competence, professional and personal skills and moral, spiritual and social values. To learn more, visit

About Dr. Mark Brown
Dr. Mark Brown has nearly 20 years of experience in organizational management, drug development, and biomanufacturing, and has served in a range of executive roles across the biotech and pharma industries as well as in academia. Dr. Brown currently serves as Chief Executive Officer for a preclinical medical device company and as President of a pharmaceutical corporation. Outside his industry roles, he is also a professor in the Department of Clinical Sciences at Colorado State University, a professor in the Epidemiology Section of the Colorado School of Public Health, and has an active appointment in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at the SD School of Mines and Technology. At Colorado State, Brown served as Head of the Global Health and Health Disparities Section in the Colorado School of Public Health, as a Section Head in Clinical Sciences, and as a Molecular Oncologist in the Cancer Center. He has been regularly honored for his research achievements and innovative teaching practices and in [year], oversaw the development of a six-university consortium. Dr. Brown was on a team that helped manufacture the H1N1 vaccine and the world's first Ebola therapeutic in collaboration with the Department of Defense. During COVID-19, he was part of the regulatory team that oversaw the efficacy arm of the clinical trials for Operation Warp Speed, which developed the Pfizer and Durnan vaccines. Dr. Brown's most recent initiatives include being tasked by the National Science Foundation to help bring biotech back to the United States and joining Mount Marty University as the Master of Biotechnology Program Director.