Gov. Charlie Baker was in town yet again this Wednesday to congratulate Gloucester Marine Genomics Institute for the opening of its new learning environment.
“Our administration has been proud to support GMGI’s new Gloucester Biotechnology Academy in Blackburn Center through a Workforce Skills Capital Grant, and we’re excited about the future of GMGI’s programming with this new facility,” Baker said. “Over the years, we have gotten to know the team at GMGI and the incredible work they are doing connecting people with the skills they need to compete in Massachusetts’ growing life sciences sector, and we look forward to continuing to collaborate with them in the future.”
In 2020, the institute received the $940,569 Skills Capital grant, paid out over two years, and requiring a 33% local match. GMGI secured support pledges from corporate partners New England Biolabs, BioMed Realty and the Payette architectural design firm, among others for a budget total of $1.546 million.
The new 3,200 square foot facility, designed pro-bono by Payette, features an open-concept classroom, a state-of-the-art biomanufacturing laboratory, an instrument room, and additional office and storage space. This expansion enables the academy to double the annual class size from 20 students to 40 students, and award a biomanufacturing certificate.
The addition of biomanufacturing to the academy curriculum opens up many more options for its graduates, at the same time addressing the growing demand for a workforce to meet the needs of the booming biotech industry in the Commonwealth.
“With the biotech and life sciences sectors growing at breakneck speeds in Massachusetts, we saw an opportunity to align our proven education model with industry needs,” said Christine Bolzan, GMGI’s executive director. “Providing our graduates with this new skillset will not only increase their options and confidence as professionals, it gives area biotech and life science companies a pipeline of well-prepared, trained lab technicians.”
Biomanufacturing is a next-generation production method that uses cell lines (typically bacteria, yeast, and mammalian cells) to generate commercially relevant materials including pharmaceuticals, foods and beverages, plastics and other industrial applications.
The academy has invested in cutting-edge equipment that will enable graduates to pursue careers in modern bioprocessing laboratories. It has also brought on a full-time lead teacher with deep industry experience, Stephen F. Anderson, PhD, who will lead the biomanufacturing curriculum.
The academy’s sixth class, which began only a day prior on Sept. 7, will be the first cohort to utilize the space and benefit from the retooled, comprehensive curriculum.