IGD-LA, Raising Biotech Leaders in High Schools Through Innovative Mentoring and Industry Partnerships

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Despite the industry demands for job-ready Biotechnology technicians, the lack of awareness of and engagement with biotechnology courses and degree programs among high school and college students presents a major challenge for the industry, as well as a major unexplored opportunity for local youth in the greater Los Angeles region. The problem is not a lack of training opportunities. In fact, many Biotechnology education programs region and statewide struggle to fill their courses; some programs even have to cancel their course offerings due to low enrollment. Although dual-enrollment programs are growing in the state of California, there is a persistent access gap for many students, particularly those who come from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds. The lack of awareness of biotechnology career pathways among students, parents, and high school teachers and counselors, exacerbates this access gap.

This project introduces a unique collaborative peer-mentoring strategy for high school teachers, empowering them to become leaders in their high school communities who teach, guide, and inspire a diverse student body to enroll in biotechnology courses and consider careers in this rapidly growing field. In partnership with the Biocom California Institute (BCI), this project will provide technical training for high school teachers in the Greater Los Angeles Region on the Illumina Genomics Discovery (IGD) curriculum. The project will leverage institutional knowledge and an existing student internship infrastructure to establish a student-operated distribution center for the IGD Lab-In-A-Box Program that serves both college and high school teachers and students in the greater Los Angeles region. This project will create access to genomic training and Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) technology in the region and increase the visibility of various biotechnology career pathways among high school and community college students, particularly those who come from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds. 

Project PI: 
Aron Kamajaya (PI)
Host Organization: Los Angeles Pierce College
Grant number: 2400820
Project Contact Info: 
Woodland Hills CA