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CASE Alumnus Profile: John Joubran

March 7, 2017


Random numbers? For everyone besides John Joubran, '92, yes. To him, these numbers mean a quite a lot.

That's because they are the numbers of the four U.S. patents Joubran has been awarded for work he does in biotechnology.

When Joubran began the fledgling biotech program in the early 1990s, he could not have imagined that he would be co-credited on four patents and be on the cutting edge of Cystic Fibrosis drug development.

Joubran’s experience at Ferris got him started on a career in the biotech industry. Today Joubran works at Vertex Pharmaceuticals in San Diego, where his work has focused on drugs to treat Cystic Fibrosis. Joubran has seen his Cystic Fibrosis drug work actually hit the market and help those who suffer from the disease.

Joubran attended Davison Senior High School in Davison, Mich., near Flint. He is the son of immigrants. Joubran initially attended Central Michigan University, but he decided to transfer to Ferris to enroll in the College of Pharmacy. As it turned out, he was not able to enroll in the pharmacy program. At that time, Joubran says, "I had no idea what I was going to do with my future.” Joubran remembers he was approached by Dr. Mary Murnik, the then-head of the Department of Biological Sciences, who asked him if he would be interested in Biotech. At the time, it was a brand-new program. He became part of the only the second year of the major existing. 6 people in class, only 3 graduated, our class 14 people. 2nd year of that major existing. Joubran credits Dr. Murnik and Dr. Kim Colvert of the Department of Physical Sciences for their guidance and support. “If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be here right now.”

He eventually graduated from Ferris in May 1992 with a B.S. in Biotechnology and B.S. in Biology, with distinction in both majors. When he left Ferris, his education had prepared him to immediately join the workforce Joubran says, "I could walk into any lab. Everything we did at Ferris was cutting edge."

In 1994, Joubran began working as a Research Associate at Systemix in Palo Alto, Calif. There, he was part of a team that received two U.S patent awards for a high-speed cell sorter. He then worked as a Scientist with Beckman Coulter in Miami, Florida, where he worked to develop the Coulter Cell Prep hollow fiber cell washing system and automated cell processing system marketed as the Prep-Plus. He received two (2) U.S. Patents for hollow fiber cell wash system.

In 2000, Joubran moved to San Diego to work for a start-up company that was eventually purchased by Vertex Pharmaceuticals. Currently, most of his work at Vertex has been in developing cystic fibrosis drugs. In his time at Vertex he and his team have received FDA acceptance for Cystic Fibrosis compound, submitted four clinical trial compounds for Delta F-508, and submitted sodium channel based pain blockers compound for clinical trial. "They are new, novel drugs,” Joubran says about eh Cystic Fibrosis drugs he helps produce for Vertex. "there's some people in a lifetime that never see a drug" actually used by humans. worked on approved drugs actually being out there used.

“We are very motivated,” Joubran says. “It’s a team effort. It’s a small group, but we get a lot done.” Joubran says one of the great things about Vertex is that if you do make a mistake, you can learn from it.

Joubran stresses that the patents he has been part of are a team effort. He stresses that it wasn’t he alone who did the work. "It was a group of us," he says.

Joubran admits that he’s been fortunate with opportunities, but his work ethic has always been seen as good. When asked what advice he would give to current Ferris students majoring in the sciences, he says, "You work hard and you actually study. You’ve got to tell the truth. Don't make up your work, your experiments. You have to be trustworthy. Don't take your biology classes for granted. A lot of that stuff comes back!"

Joubran hasn’t been back to visit for many years, but he says that he would like to take his hildfren there someday. As for his Ferris experience, he says, “I have no regrets.”

John Joubran's Patents

U.S. Patent Number: 6,692,968
February 17, 2004
Apparatus and Method for Sample Purification and Analysis

U.S. Patent Number: 6,692,702
February 17, 2004
Apparatus for Biological Sample Preparation and Analysis

U.S. Patent Number: 5,776,781
July 7, 1998
Sterile Flow Cytometer and Sorter with Mechanical Isolation between Flow Chamber and Sterile Enclosure and Methods for Using Same

U.S. Patent Number: 5,641,457
June 24, 1997
Sterile Flow Cytometer and Sorter with Mechanical Isolation between Flow Chamber and Sterile Enclosure