Faces of IMI: Max Brant

Faces of IMI - Max Brant

February 3, 2023

Max is a first year graduate student at IMI, and an active member of the IMI Graduate Student Committee (IMI GSC). He joined the MBiotech program in 2022 and brought with him not only his enthusiasm for learning, but his intriguing experience and background as well. Max completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Calgary, where he majored in cellular and molecular biology. His research at U of C focused on investigating the role of a protein called KAP1 and discovered its role in mammary gland development. His work there helped him discover the importance of experiential learning and how it is crucial for building a strong foundational skill set. He enjoys working as part of a team to reach challenging goals, which is one of the many things he loves about the MBiotech program.  He is passionate about student engagement, and his role as junior class rep on the IMI GSC provides him with the opportunity to connect with students from each of the IMI grad programs. He is grateful for the chance to see behind the scenes of IMI and to make meaningful contributions to UTM. Max trained as a long track speed skater at the Olympic Oval in Calgary, and won bronze in the Canada Winter Games. He recently hung up his skates to focus on his studies, but he still finds ways to stay active and enjoys running, cycling and working out.  

What attracted you to the MBiotech program at IMI? What do you enjoy most about studying here? 

 In my undergraduate research, I really enjoyed working with cutting-edge science and seeing how fundamental ideas can be translated into productive technologies. At first, I thought my calling was in research. After working in two different labs I found that my calling was actually outside the lab. The MBiotech program has been a perfect fit for me because it gears students for a strong entry to the pharmaceutical industry where we have the opportunity to work alongside cutting-edge technologies, specifically biologic therapies.  

So far my favourite part of studying in the MBiotech program at IMI is the people. I love being surrounded by intelligent and ambitious students, faculty, and staff. I’m always amazed at the creativity, determination, and charisma at IMI, and I love pushing myself to keep up. One of my highlights was my Instagram takeover, sharing a sneak peek at a day in the life of an MBiotech student. Check out the reel @mbiotech_utm!

You are very involved in student life and a great ambassador for your program. How do you find time to balance all of your commitments?  

Thank you for the kind words! The short answer is that I live off my google calendar and I always keep sticky notes with follow-up items and to-do’s. The long answer is that I think it comes from passion. Being on the IMI GSC and being an ambassador for my program has given me a new perspective on education. It has been a blast planning events to connect students from each of the IMI programs and I feel honoured to have a voice in MBiotech and in IMI programming. It’s actually fun for me to balance my commitments, especially knowing that fun things come out of them.  

What advice do you have for prospective IMI students?  

My main piece of advice for prospective IMI students is to take on “experiential learning” opportunities. This is the idea that most learning does not actually happen with pen and paper, it happens through experience. The IMI programs are great for this with unique courses and co-ops. Whether you are an undergraduate student or currently studying at IMI, my advice would be to make the most of your learning by seeking out unique opportunities. For me it was research, but it can be anything from a group project to starting a business. One step further, I think it is important to get out of your comfort zone and try new things in these experiences whether it be leadership, communication styles, organization techniques, etc. IMI provides an amazing environment that allows students to explore their strengths, so I would recommend making the most of your IMI journey! This is also the perfect way to build new skills, discover your strengths, make meaningful connections, and even improve your applications to IMI programs or future careers! 

Your undergrad research on the mammary gland is fascinating. How has this project shaped your career path, and what do you plan to do with your degree post-graduation?   

Working on the KAP1/mammary gland project introduced me to a lot of areas in biology that I think will be pivotal for science and medicine in the coming years. It has also shown the importance of fundamental research, which supports the development and eventual commercialization of therapies that improve the lives of patients across the globe. Right now I’m a business analyst intern at a company called Drug Intelligence, where we look at the performance of pharmaceuticals in the market. There is so much to learn and in all honestly my career path has not yet been set in stone. So far, my goal after graduation is to continue working in the pharmaceutical industry to gain as much knowledge and as many skills as I can. Eventually it might be nice to get into venture capital to support the commercialization of promising biologic therapies.  

What do you do for fun? 

When the sun is up I love going on long runs or bike rides, especially when the weather is nice. When the sun goes down… margaritas!