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The Central Connecticut State University Biotechnology Institute

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Introduction to the Biotech Institute

The state of Connecticut has made a concerted and determined effort in the past 10 years to attract biotechnology companies to this state. The state has formed the Connecticut Office of BioScience, operated within the Department of Economic and Community Development, which is devoted to providing business development assistance to BioScience firms. These efforts have been successful in attracting biotechnology-based companies that employed over 16,500 people in 2001. Research and development investments by Connecticut-based biotechnology firms and universities have increased over the past 7 years, totaling $3.6 billion in 2001. Clearly, biotechnology-based companies are working in Connecticut, with new 'start-ups' establishing businesses in Connecticut each quarter, such as Sepharion and Alexion Pharmaceutical.

The biotechnology industry in Connecticut covers a wide range of cutting edge research and development. BioScience firms vary in size from dozens of employees to the well-known pharmaceutical giants, such as Bristol-Myers, Bayer and Pfizer, which employ thousands in Connecticut. All of these companies need highly skilled researchers and scientists. A well-trained workforce is critical to attract more Biotechnology firms to the state. To supply this workforce, Connecticut's public institutions of higher learning must be able to prepare our graduates to enter the biotech R&D arena. In addition, increased efforts to inform Connecticut’s pre-college population about educational and career opportunities in biotechnology are needed.

Biotechnology spans a range of fields including chemistry and the biological sciences. An Institute outside the traditional confines of university science departments will foster the pursuit of research training which falls under the scope of biotechnology. The backbone of the biotechnology and BioScience fields is the Molecular Life Sciences (MLS). The goal of the MLS is to understand organizational, structural and functional aspects of living systems at the molecular level. Such detailed analysis requires a deep understanding of biology and chemistry and also exploits the tools of both of these disciplines. The MLS therefore demand an interdisciplinary approach to understanding biological processes.

Undergraduate programs currently offered in the MLS include: a specialization in Cell, Molecular, and Physiological Biology (CMP) which has grown to claim more than 40 majors as of Fall 2002; and a Certificate in Biotechnology, which demonstrates an emphasis on MLS research beyond the undergraduate major requirements. At the graduate level, we offer an M.A. degree with a specialization in Cell and Molecular Biology, under which 25 students currently carry a planned program; and a Post Baccalaureate Certificate Program in Cell and Molecular Biology, a program which provides advanced instruction and advising in the molecular life sciences.

In spite of these strong MLS programs, we know that area biotech companies remain largely unaware of the highly-trained, research resource that our graduates represent. The Biotechnology Institute will serve as a much-needed link between the MLS at CCSU and the local biotechnology industries. The Institute will increase awareness of the academic programs available at CCSU, and will foster a flow of information between the industries and the MLS at CCSU. The biotech industries will gain better access to well trained CCSU graduates and exposure to faculty research in the MLS at CCSU. The University will benefit from a relationship with the biotech industry in terms of financial resources for outreach and undergraduate research, opportunities for on-campus and off-campus research internships, increased co-op opportunities, and advice from industry in curriculum, course development and certificate programs.

The Biotechnology Institute at CCSU aims to support statewide activities in biotechnology by concentrating area expertise and expanding CCSU’s effectiveness in training students in the principles and practices of MLS. The Biotechnology Institute is expected to enhance: (1) our graduates' readiness to enter graduate training programs in MLS or biotech careers in Connecticut; (2) Connecticut biotech employers’ (both academic and industrial) access to and awareness of a local and well-trained human resource; (3) the currency and relevance of MLS programs at CCSU; and 4) our ability to inform the regional pre-college student population about academic and career opportunities in the MLS, right here in central Connecticut.

Taken from the CCSU Biotech Institute Proposal, May 2003

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Website Administrator: Michael Davis
RevisedApril 11, 2008