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Infinity Lab Experience Invaluable for Biotech Student

By Eric Breier

Shruti Jha knew an internship would provide valuable experience as she prepares for a career in the biotechnology industry.

But working for Alcheme Bio in Cal State San Marcos’ Infinity Lab has exceeded all of Jha’s expectations. Not only has it provided hands-on learning opportunities, but Jha has been able to work closely with and learn from Vanessa Small, the founder, chief executive officer and chief scientific officer of Alcheme Bio.

“I knew since it was a startup that I would get to do a lot more than if I was at a bigger company, but the experience has been amazing,” said Jha, who will graduate from CSUSM with a master’s in biotechnology in May. “Working with Vanessa has been especially helpful. She is a great mentor.”

CSUSM’s Infinity Lab is a state-of-the-art research facility that launched last spring to offer affordable bench space for bioentrepreneurs. Alcheme Bio is one of four bioscience entrepreneurs that are part of the lab along with Grann Pharmaceuticals, Indaptus Therapeutics and GSD Bio. The Infinity Lab’s convenient location in CSUSM’s Extended Learning building, ready availability of research equipment and instrumentation, and collaborative environment are key elements of the laboratory’s success.

Originally designed as a teaching space, the university pivoted because of the pandemic and reimagined the Infinity Lab as part of its innovation ecosystem under the direction of Dr. Scott Gross, associate vice president of industry partnerships, and Dr. Betsy Read, the founder of the university’s biotechnology program. They’ve received added assistance from Debora Galasso, a 25-year veteran of the biotech industry who is a lecturer in the Master of Biotechnology: A Professional Science Master’s program.

The lab has become the perfect place for students like Jha to gain real-world experience while learning from seasoned professionals like Small.

“Vanessa is very patient,” Jha said. “Even though she's the CEO, she is very much willing to teach me and to answer questions.”

Growing up in India, Jha was always interested in biology and initially considered pursuing a career as a doctor. But her interests shifted more to research and studying how things work and why they work in a particular manner.

Jha earned her bachelor’s in biotechnology from St. Xavier's College, Ranchi in India. She chose CSUSM for her master’s degree both because of its location in a hub for biotechnology and its strong program that combines science and management.

The master’s program requirements include completing a semester-in-residence project, and Jha learned about the Infinity Lab from Read, who recommended reaching out to Alcheme Bio. Jha’s lab work includes protein purification, extracting protein, and trying to grow it and scale it up. She said the experience has been invaluable as she works toward finding a job in industry after graduation in May.

“It has been so great, especially for me being an international student,” Jha said. “This opportunity was perfect for me, and I'm grateful to Alcheme Bio.”


Visit the Infinity Lab website to learn more about joining the lab.

Media Contact

Eric Breier, Interim Assistant Director of Editorial and External Affairs

ebreier@csusm.edu | Office: 760-750-7314