Tri-State Expansion, Curriculum Evolution, and Equity during BioTechnician Training (Tri ExCEEd BTT)

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The growth of the life science industry, fueled by cell and gene therapy (CGT) in the Greater Philadelphia region, has led to a high demand for laboratory technicians in both academic and industry labs. Both an increase in clinical trials and approved CGT products will bring increased demands for laboratory technician positions in bioprocessing, increasing opportunities for individuals with less than a bachelor?s degree. The Wistar Institute, developed the Biomedical Technician Training (BTT) Program to prepare students from the Community College of Philadelphia (CCP) for positions as biological laboratory technicians and research assistants. The BTT Program has served as both research experience and workforce development for community college students, and the BTT Program was registered as a pre-apprenticeship program in 2019. This project will work with new community college partners to identify appropriate pre-requisite courses and allow students to earn credits for their experience in the BTT Pre-apprenticeship Program that includes a Laboratory Orientation and two Lab Experiences, one in an academic research lab and the other in an industry lab or core facility. The project will expand the number and geographical location of employer partners to New Jersey and Delaware.

The project will expand recruitment efforts in the Greater Philadelphia region and increase numbers of applicants by including 3 additional community college partners, bringing a total of 8 community colleges covering at least 10 counties in 3 states involved in the BTT pre-apprenticeship program. The project will provide a blueprint for incorporation of a biotechnician pre-apprenticeship program into various biotechnology and science curricula at community colleges and serve as a model for regional program expansion. New employer partners in 2 neighboring states will be recruited, allowing the registration of the apprenticeship for use nationally. Project-based laboratory curriculum will be developed and mapped to newly developed standards in CGT. By using research from Wistar specifically chosen to engage underserved students and paying participants during the program, we will investigate whether this program provides the equity needed to close completion gaps. Faculty liaisons at each new community college partner will be identified and they will be exposed to current research and CGT. These experiences will allow them to make connections to one another, industry partners, and the ATE community. Adding employer partners to offer lab experiences is expected to result in more hiring of employees with an associate degree. 

Project PI: 
PI - Kristy McGuire (Principal Investigator)
Host Organization: The Wistar Institute
Other Collaborators: 
Dominic Salerno  (Co-Principal Investigator) Community College of Philadelphia, Margaret Bryans  (Co-Principal Investigator), Montgomery County Community College  
Grant number: 2400830
Project Contact Info: 
Philadelphia PA