Did you know that universities and research institutions are major biotechnology employers? And, did you know that shared research resource facilities (core labs) support modern research in these institutions and need an advanced technical workforce with the kinds of skills we teach our students? Core labs enable efficient and widespread access to state-of-the-art technologies and scientific expertise that have accelerated research for over 40 years. These technologies include genomics, proteomics, bioinformatics, imaging, flow cytometry, and others to form the foundation of biotechnology research, development, and production. Many core lab directors and staff are members of the Association of Biomolecular Resource Facilities (ABRF).
In collaboration with InnovATEBIO, ABRF is developing an NSF-ATE (Advanced Technological Education) proposal to create a consortium of its interdisciplinary members and community college partners to develop career paths in biomolecular analysis. We envision an ABRF and community college partnership for STEM workforce development to on-board new programs and support others to meet the rapidly changing needs in biotechnology. Consortium participants will engage in professional development in national and regional meetings, and support student career development through internships, undergraduate research, and continuing education opportunities. As partnerships develop, biotech programs will further benefit from connections with technology experts who can advise on technical and soft skill needs. The resulting collaborations will present opportunities for leadership development in community colleges.
Through this work, and ABRF’s influence in professional societies such as FASEB (Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology), research institutions, and industry, we are committed to changing hiring practices to focus on skills over degrees. As part of this project ABRF proposes to identify the common technical skills and education requirements across four interdisciplinary advanced technology areas (Flow Cytometry, Mass Spectrometry, Imaging, Genomics) with the long-term goal of developing a certification program for these disciplines.
Todd Smith, Ph.D., InnovATEBIO, Digital World Biology, Seattle, WA
Jane Srivastava, J. David Gladstone Institute, San Francisco, CA
Justine Kigenyi, Hoglund Biomedical Imaging Center, University of Kansas Medical Center, KS
Andrew Chitty, Oregon Health Sciences University, Portland, OR
Terri Quenzer, Executive Director of the Bioscience Workforce Development Hub, based at MiraCosta College, CA