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State Funding Awarded to Wistar in Support of its Biomedical Research Training & Workforce Development Programs

PHILADELPHIA — (Feb. 14, 2019) — The Wistar Institute was awarded two grants totaling more than $128,000 from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry to support the Institute’s training and workforce development initiatives in biomedical research.

The funding comes from PAsmart, an initiative outlined last year by Governor Tom Wolf to better align education and workforce development initiatives to drive economic growth, with the goal of enhancing skills and developing talent in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), and computer science industries. Governor Wolf recently announced grants to increase apprenticeships and job training in the commonwealth.

The grants will provide funding for Wistar’s Biomedical Technician Training (BTT) Program and Biomedical Research Technician (BRT) Apprenticeship, both of which embody the Institute’s commitment to developing talents in biomedical research to support the expanding biotech industry in the Philadelphia area.

“With its longstanding community training efforts, Wistar has been a pioneer in workforce development in the biomedical sector,” said Dario C. Altieri, M.D., president and CEO of The Wistar Institute. “We are proud of our critical role and we are thrilled that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is investing in apprenticeships as a resource to create a highly specialized workforce for the vibrant life sciences enterprise in our region.”

The BTT Program was founded in 2000 by Wistar’s William Wunner, Ph.D., director of Academic Affairs, Outreach Education and Technology Training, in partnership with the Community College of Philadelphia. The program uniquely combines academic course work with specialized training in research laboratories, preparing community college students for new career opportunities as research assistants and technicians, and has a long successful track record in creating new job opportunities. The $60,000 pre-apprenticeship grant awarded through PAsmart to the BTT Program will provide important support to the program.

An extension of the BTT Program, Wistar’s BRT Apprenticeship is the first registered, non-traditional apprenticeship in the biomedical sciences in the country, and was formally approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry in 2017. By leveraging collaborations between Wistar and research partners in biotech, biopharmaceutical, and academic research settings, the program offers apprentices highly specialized technical and professional skills valued by the life sciences industry, while providing a wage as they train. The new “First Up” grant will provide the Apprenticeship funding for $68,262, which will allow for expansion of the BRT Apprenticeship each year.

“We are very grateful to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for investing in Wistar’s signature workforce development and training programs,” said Brian Keith, Ph.D., dean of Biomedical Studies at Wistar. “Receiving state approval for the BRT Apprenticeship last year and being able to attract state funding now demonstrate the hard work and passion that Dr. Wunner and Wistar leadership have invested over the decades, and will advance our training efforts to reach more students in the Philadelphia region.”


The Wistar Institute is an international leader in biomedical research with special expertise in cancer, infectious disease research, and vaccine development. Founded in 1892 as the first independent nonprofit biomedical research institute in the United States, Wistar has held the prestigious Cancer Center designation from the National Cancer Institute since 1972. The Institute works actively to ensure that research advances move from the laboratory to the clinic as quickly as possible.

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