Improving Biopharmaceutical Technician Education with Cell and Gene Therapy Credentials

Over the past four years more than 30 cell and gene therapy companies have started or become located in Montgomery County, Maryland, making it an emerging center for biopharmaceutical industries. Montgomery College will address the critical workforce needs of this growing industry by increasing the number of work-ready biotechnicians with a focus on cell and gene therapy. The biotechnology program at Montgomery College will add a new Certificate in Cell and Gene therapy with an expected annual enrollment of 20 students by 2025. They will combine this new certificate program with two new micro-credentials in Micropipetting and Aseptic Techniques for Mammalian Cell Culture. Skills from these courses and credentials will be vetted by industry professionals to ensure alignment with their expectations for entry-level biotechnology positions. Finally, the college plans to increase awareness and enrollment in the biotechnology program through increased outreach combined with a comprehensive marketing strategy, and focus group analysis.

Montgomery College plans to improve educational outcomes for students in the biotechnology program by creating a new Principles of Cell and Gene Therapy Technology course that will be part of the new Cell and Gene Therapy certificate. The certificate will include three existing courses that feature a strong regulatory component that addresses the essential elements of FDA compliance for therapeutics. The college will consult with an industry advisory group to develop new micro credentials in Micropipetting and Aseptic Techniques for Mammalian Cell Culture. While these are considered standard techniques, Montgomery College plans to achieve industrial buy-in for these credentials which can augment degrees and certificates and improve employment opportunities for students. To improve enrollment in the program, the college will conduct focus groups to determine baseline data regarding student interest and knowledge of biotechnology careers. They will also develop a 10-hour biotechnology camp for Montgomery County students and educators to improve the program’s outreach. A program evaluator will monitor the progress of the project and will use formative and summative assessments to guide it. This project is funded by the Advanced Technological Education program that focuses on the education of technicians for the advanced-technology fields that drive the nation's economy.

Project PI: 
Collins Jones, PhD
Host Organization: Montgomery College Germantown
Other Collaborators: 
James Sniezek, PhD, CoPI Lori Kelman, PhD,  CoPI Padmavathi Tangirala, CoPI
Grant number: DUE 2155187
Project Contact Info: 
Montgomery College Germantown Rockville MD