The Biomedical Technician Training (BTT) Program was created by Dr. William Wunner at The Wistar Institute in partnership with Community College of Philadelphia (CCP) in 2000. In 2019 the BTT Program became a registered pre-apprenticeship that can lead into Wistar’s Fox Biomedical Research Technician (BRT) Apprenticeship.
Originally, a two-summer program, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and increased demand for more, well-trained laboratory technicians and research assistants in life sciences in the Greater Philadelphia region, Wistar accelerated the BTT Program and is expanding the number of students training in each cohort, the number of cohorts supported each year, and the reach of the program.
With funding from a National Science Foundation (NSF) Advanced Technological Education (ATE) grant entitled, ExCEEd BTT: Expansion, Curriculum Evolution, and Enhancement during BioTechnician Training, the BTT Program is expanding to additional community colleges in the region, including Montgomery County Community College, Bucks County Community College, and Delaware County Community College (which also serves Chester County) in Pennsylvania, and Camden County College in New Jersey. The BTT Program now incorporates a novel, project-based curriculum using authentic Wistar research from the lab of Maureen Murphy, Ph.D., Program Leader of the Molecular & Cellular Oncogenesis Program at Wistar’s Ellen and Ronald Caplan Cancer Center. Students investigate how a variant of the tumor suppressor p53 more common in individuals of African and Hispanic descent can be used to improve cancer treatment, and in the process learn in-demand laboratory skills in our new training lab. Finally, students are able to apply and practice these skills and learn more specialized techniques in laboratory experiences/internships at The Wistar Institute and other area institutions.
The new accelerated model for the BTT Program allows students at different stages of their education and career to prepare for positions as laboratory technicians and research assistants in both academic and industry labs. Trainees acquire the skills necessary to carry out basic discovery research and contribute to the development of novel biotechnology and pharmaceutical products. After completion of the BTT Program, trainees can obtain positions which are traditionally held by graduates of four-year baccalaureate programs.
Students should successfully complete at least one semester of college-level Chemistry and one semester of Biology for science majors with a focus on molecular and cellular topics before starting their hands-on training at Wistar. Additional pre-requisite courses in English, mathematics and computer literacy may also be required.
Through laboratory exercises, experiments, tutorials, and problem-solving sessions, BTT students learn and practice general biomedical laboratory skills during the first two weeks of training at The Wistar Institute. This training takes place in Wistar’s recently renovated 1,700 square-foot, dedicated training laboratory and adjacent tissue culture room.
In order to apply their technical skills, trainees are placed in two different laboratories for 5-week work experiences designed to expose them to the diversity of biomedical research. These internships are hosted at The Wistar Institute or one of our academic or industry collaborators including:
- University of Pennsylvania
- Fox Chase Cancer Center
- Integral Molecular
- Invisible Sentinel
- Chimeron Bio
- Vittoria Biotherapeutics
Students are paid during the laboratory training. Through these mentored laboratory experiences, they continue to develop their technical and professional skills while contributing to the goals of the laboratory.
The BTT Program has been preparing students for exciting careers in the growing field of basic and applied biomedical research for over 20 years. The BTT Program provides students with the opportunity to gain the foundational background and technical skills needed to succeed in entry-level laboratory positions. BTT Program graduates have obtained jobs in a variety of academic research institutions and at biomedical, biotechnology, and pharmaceutical companies in the Greater Philadelphia region.
Applying to the BTT Program
Applications can be submitted online here: https://eap.apps.wistar.org/
Create an account and then start your application by selecting “Add New BTT Summer Session 2024 Application”.
Applications are due by Friday, March 1, 2024.
A complete application includes:
- Online application
- A personal statement that explains why you are interested in this program and how participation will advance your educational and career goals. We invite you to also share any barriers or challenges you’ve faced in pursuing your education and career goals and how this program can help you overcome those challenges. Statements should be single-spaced, 12-point font and no more than 1 page.
- Transcripts from all colleges attended.
- Contact information for two recommenders. We prefer at least one recommendation from a current or former science teacher. The application system will send an email with a link for each recommender to upload a letter.
In this video, students in Wistar’s BTT and Fox BRT Programs discuss how the skills taught in Wistar’s labs prepare them for a rewarding career in biomedical sciences.
For more information about the BTT Program at The Wistar Institute, contact:
Kristy Shuda McGuire, Ph.D.
Dean, Biomedical Studies
Associate Professor, Molecular & Cellular Oncogenesis Program, Ellen and Ronald Caplan Cancer Center
3601 Spruce Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Community College of Philadelphia students interested in the BTT Program should contact:
or the Division of Math, Science, and Health Careers at 215-751-8430
Montgomery County Community College students interested in the BTT Program should contact:
Bucks County Community College students interested in the BTT Program should contact:
Lee Ann Lippincott, M.S./M.Ed.
Biotechnology Programs Coordinator/STEM Learning Center
Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Department
Bucks County Community College
Camden County College students interested in the BTT Program should contact:
Roberto N. Feudale, Ph.D
Associate Professor and Co-Chairman of the Chemistry Department
Halpern Hall, 329-C
856-227-7200, ext. 4073
The Wistar Institute gratefully acknowledges generous support for the Biomedical Technician Training Program from:
National Science Foundation (NSF) Advanced Technological Education (ATE)
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry
The Anne M. and Philip H. Glatfelter, III Family Foundation
The Brook J. Lenfest Foundation
The Hassel Foundation