Berkeley MBA Students Place Third in Biotech Competition

A Berkeley MBA team beat out 16 other business schools to nab the third-place prize in the 2011 Wake Forest Biotech Case Competition on Feb. 19.

The team, named “Team Serotonin,” was composed of Liora Bowers, MBA/MPH 11; evening and weekend students Jonathan Heller and Huzefa Neemuchwala, both MBA 13; Meean Ramachandran, MBA/MPH 12; and full-time MBA student Heather Stamper, MBA 11. The team bested Harvard Business School, Duke, and UCLA with its approach to developing a long-term strategy for growing Targacept into a large biopharma company.

Targacept was spun off of tobacco company R.J. Reynolds to leverage nicotine-related research that has implications on central nervous system disorders such as schizophrenia and attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder.

“We had to evaluate several growth options and recommend a specific path to best develop a robust product portfolio to address large unmet medical needs,” says Neemuchwala.

Team Serotonin built its solution around a framework of core competency, clinical evidence, market opportunity, and value to partners and recommended specific actions for the short-, mid-, and long-term. For instance, in the short-term the team recommended building a neurology-focused specialty sales and marketing organization and in the mid- and long-term expand its focus beyond neuronal nicotinic receptor drugs.

Judges hailed the highly structured and logical nature of the team’s framework and the depth of their research. University of Texas at Austin came in first, and MIT came in second in the competition. 

Wake Forest Biotech Competition Winners "Team Seratonin": Heather Stamper, MBA 11; Meena Ramachandran, MBA/MPH 12; Liora Bowers MBA/MPH 11; Jonathan Heller, MBA 12; and Huzefa Neemuchwala, MBA 13.