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Biotech group pools efforts to meet industry needs

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Increasingly, college graduates and scientists are unable or finding it extremely difficult to transition from academic degree programs or research institute positions to local life sciences companies due to their lack of understanding of the commercial work environment and unique industry fundamentals. Conversely, life sciences companies in San Diego continue to recruit more experienced employees from other regions or other local companies to fill their open positions, rather than investing in on-the-job training of local talent. This is not a sustainable practice for the region due to the expense from financial, human resources and regional work force development perspectives.

A consortium of universities, community colleges and industry associations in the San Diego region plans to jointly offer a "Life Science Industry Immersion Course" to address these unmet needs, from both the candidate and employer perspectives.

The San Diego Biotechnology Education Consortium was founded in 2004 to serve the San Diego biotechnology industry by supporting increased collaboration and articulation among member educational programs, assessing and addressing industry needs, and facilitating placement of interns within the industry. Participating consortium members include: BIOCOM, the regional industry organization with over 550 members; CONNECT, which fosters technology and life sciences business entrepreneurship in the San Diego region; the San Diego Workforce Partnership, which provides employment related services to local businesses and job seekers through a network of countywide One Stop Career Centers; the California State University Program for Research and Education in Biotechnology (CSUPERB), which provides vision, leadership, and support for biotechnology education and research throughout the CSU system to promote biotechnology in California; San Diego State University; California State University, San Marcos; University of California, San Diego Extension; and the Southern California Biotechnology Center, San Diego Miramar College, whose mission is to promote work force development through the California Community College System.

The consortium plans to jointly offer an intensive certificate as a four-week program for the first time in Summer 2008. The program will be characterized by a competitive admissions process; a high-quality, industry-driven curriculum; and involved, industry partnerships and sponsors.

Student participants will be skilled scientists, with doctorates or five years post-baccalaureate experience in a research setting. Expert faculty, drawn from participating organizations and local industry, will present principles and practice associated with life sciences product, process and regulatory development. Curriculum modules will feature high level, expert introductions to topics that encompass the breadth of business and financial principles, as well as exposure to regulatory, ethics, legal, product development, GXPs, marketing, "must-know" vocabulary and job search preparation.

The program will include in depth, real-world case studies and team projects. Certificate holders will have practical understanding of life sciences business and functional business areas, familiarity with the local San Diego business environment, and networking opportunities with industry representatives and experts. The aim is to transition skilled researchers in the region into industrial careers, while also shortening the orientation time companies expect as new hires fit into the team-based, multidisciplinary corporate culture.

Companies and students interested in the program should contact Sandy Slivka at (619) 388-7490 or Susan Baxter at (619) 594-2822.

Slivka is director of the Southern California Biotechnology Center at Miramar College, and Baxter is executive director of the California State University Program for Education and Research in Biotechnology.

Related Link: www.sdbiotechcareers.org

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