ABRF 2019: Community colleges: the new frontier for advanced biotechnology education and laboratory services

Tue Mar 26, 2019

ABRF 2019 in San Antonio TX

Join us at the ABRF annual meeting for a special panel introducing the Bio-Link.org community to ABRF. To learn more about the panel read: Community colleges: the new frontier for advanced biotechnology education and laboratory services.


Community colleges: the new frontier for advanced biotechnology education and laboratory services. 

Community colleges play a vital role in supporting the biotechnology industry because students get hands-on education and practical experience. These colleges offer technical certificates and two and four-year degrees to educate the technical workforce. Students include high-school graduates, individuals changing careers, college graduates – with bachelors degrees in biology related disciplines, and even PhD holders.  

Community colleges support the many facets of the biotechnology industry, hence is not uncommon to find their laboratories equipped with modern equipment to teach methods that include advanced DNA sequencing, mass spectrometry, microscopy, chromatography, immunoassay, and bioinformatics to name a few. Many programs are also developing education skill standards to support the next phase of biotechnology manufacturing that involves personalized medicine products including CRISPR-based gene therapies, CAR-T, immuno-therapeutics, and patient derived tissues.

Some programs have established contract service programs and business incubators. These facilities were created to catalyze regional economic development and provide additional internships for students entering the workforce. Not surprisingly these college-run organizations share many similarities with ABRF core facilities. 

The session’s goal is to introduce ABRF and Bio-Link members. Briefly, Bio-Link, which has been funded by the NSF-ATE (National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education) program, is a 20+ year-old national network of two and four-year colleges that provide workforce education in biotechnology. Session attendees will learn about Bio-Link’s past and future, college-based contract service organizations, biotechnology business incubators, and regenerative medicine education. They will also learn how Bio-Link programs can aid in staffing core labs, training personnel, and increasing business through collaborative service offerings. As Bio-Link embodies the spirit and practice of ABRF’s education mission, efforts by the Bio-Link community to develop technical standards and best practices provide additional benefits. Together Bio-Link and ABRF members can collaborate on course development and partner on project proposals that could be funded by NSF or others.


Dr. Linnea Fletcher (Austin CC, Austin AC2 Bio-link regional center PI); Abbe Kesterson (Bluegrass CC, DNA sequencing contract services organization); Dr. Tyler Drake  (Director, ACC Bioscience Incubator); Dr. Thomas Tubon (Madison College, Regenerative Medicine Program). Dr. Todd Smith (Digital World Biology) Panel Host. 

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