Awards Ceremony for Students in Unique Biomedical Careers Program

Awards Ceremony for Students in Unique Biomedical Careers Program

April 22, 2002

(PHILADELPHIA - July 23, 2002) - Six students will be honored at The Wistar Institute on Tuesday, July 23, at 2 p.m., for completing the Biomedical Technician Training Program. Jointly developed by The Wistar Institute and Community College of Philadelphia, the program, the first of its kind, prepares community-college students for research-technician careers in Philadelphia-area biomedical, pharmaceutical, and biotechnology institutions and companies. Launched as a pilot project in 2000, the program has completed its pilot phase and been added to the Community College's curriculum.

"We are very proud of these students and their accomplishments," says William H. Wunner, Ph.D., professor at The Wistar Institute and administrative coordinator of the Biomedical Technician Training Program. "They have developed the skills necessary to contribute to the research goals of laboratories in industry or academia."

"The program is a model in public-private partnerships," says Rick S. Hock, Ph.D., assistant professor of biology and academic coordinator of the program at Community College of Philadelphia. "These well-prepared graduates fill a need in today's biotech industry. The program is also a cost-effective option for training biomedical technicians, because the research partner takes on the responsibility for training and has a vested interest in the success of the student and hiring the student."

The innovative two-year program professionalizes the skilled technical support positions that laboratories in the fast-growing biomedical sector of the economy rely upon. Traditionally, biomedical technician positions have been held by bachelor's-degree students. The Biomedical Technician Training Program offers associate's-degree students a structured path toward research-technician careers through core coursework at Community College of Philadelphia and supervised, hands-on laboratory experience.

The Wistar Institute and the Fels Institute for Cancer Research and Molecular Biology at Temple University, which joined the program in 2001, serve as training sites for the students. In addition, Cephalon Inc., based in West Chester, Pa., joined as a training partner in 2002. The program is supported by the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania, Cephalon Inc., the Dolfinger-McMahon Foundation, The Hassel Foundation, the National Cancer Institute-CURE program, the Philadelphia Workforce Development Corporation, and the William Penn Foundation. Wunner says that he is extending invitations to research companies to join the program as training partners or sponsors.

The students being honored at the program-completion ceremony are:

Annette I. Bailey, of South Philadelphia. Bailey, who attended G.W. Carver High School of Engineering and Sciences, majored in culture, science, and technology at Community College of Philadelphia and plans to attend Temple University in the fall and major in biology. She hopes to continue working in a laboratory while studying at Temple. "I have learned that in order to be a good technician, you must pay attention to every detail of your experiment," she says.

Trena T. Clarke, of the city's Erie section, attended Delaware Valley High School. At Community College of Philadelphia, she majored in culture, science, and technology and liberal arts. She plans to attend Temple University and search for an entry-level research-technician position. "The experiences I had while in this program are priceless," she says. "I was able to be a part of scientific research. The public often sees the end results of research, such as medicines and treatments, but they don't understand the process that goes into developing them."

Judith A. Procknow, of Mayfair, majored in culture, science, and technology at Community College of Philadelphia and plans to seek employment as a biomedical technician. She also has an interest in nursing. "One of the most important lessons I have learned is the role of science in improving the quality of life. I have been taught the skills necessary to be an active and productive part of any laboratory," she says.

Adiam Tesfai, a native of Ethiopia, lives in Center City and majored in pharmacy at Community College of Philadelphia. Tesfai plans to seek employment as a research technician and pursue higher education.

Andreas Wiedmer, a native of Switzerland, lives in North Philadelphia. Wiedmer majored in culture, science, and technology at Community College of Philadelphia and plans to seek work in a laboratory and eventually pursue a bachelor's degree. "Science-more precisely, research-is the new career path I want to follow," Wiedmer says.

The sixth student being honored at the ceremony is Julie Andrews.

The Wistar Institute is an independent nonprofit biomedical research institution dedicated to discovering the causes and cures for major diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disorders, and infectious diseases. Founded in 1892 as the first institution of its kind in the nation, The Wistar Institute today is a National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center - one of only eight focused on basic research. Discoveries at Wistar have led to the development of vaccines for such diseases as rabies and rubella, the identification of genes associated with breast, lung, and prostate cancer, and the development of monoclonal antibodies and other significant research technologies and tools.