Waltham, Massachusetts – The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, a quasi-public agency
tasked with implementing the state’s ten-year, $1 billion Life Sciences Initiative, today
announced the agency’s first round of grants through its new Equipment and Supplies Program
for Skills Training and Education, which provides funding for the purchase of equipment at
vocational technical schools, community colleges and workforce training organizations in
Massachusetts. The program, which was formally announced by Lieutenant Governor Timothy
Murray at a statewide STEM Summit on September 28th and accepted applications from October
2010 to January 2011, will provide grants totaling more than $3.4 million to 32 vocational
technical schools, community colleges and workforce training organizations to support STEM
education across the state.
Awardees are located across the Commonwealth and provide a breadth of training ranging from
general STEM education curricula to biotechnology. Programs that will receive funding include
programs newly developed to enhance STEM education as well as programs with decades of
experience. The student population that will benefit from these equipment grants represents a
diverse workforce, including workers seeking re-training and low-income individuals preparing
for entry-level positions.
This grant program seeks to further the development of the state’s life sciences workforce by
providing funding of up to $250,000 per institution for life sciences equipment and supplies. To
be eligible for an award of greater than $100,000, applicants must have secured matching funds
or in-kind donations from an industry partner that supports the training program for which the
equipment and supplies are needed. Nine of the 32 awardees have secured sponsors from large
and small companies and institutions across the state: Dick Burnham Technical Sales, Merck,
Microtest, Nuclea Biotechnologies, Pall Corporation, Vertex, Mass General Hospital, Bristol-
Myers Squibb and MassBIO members. The combined value of their sponsorship totals $640,102.
“Massachusetts is not only a global leader in the life sciences, but also in education, and the
Commonwealth’s success on both fronts is no coincidence,” said Governor Deval Patrick.
“Initiatives like the Equipment and Supplies Program for Skills Training and Education provide
the tools that our workforce needs to prepare for the new jobs we are creating in our innovation
“The Commonwealth’s focus on STEM education continues to strengthen both our education
system and the life sciences industry in regions across the state,” said Lieutenant Governor
Timothy P. Murray, whom the Governor tasked with chairing the STEM Advisory Council.
“Through this new Life Sciences Center program, we will provide schools and the business
community with significant tools that will support our future workforce by preparing students
today for careers in the many growing, innovative sectors.”
“Leaders in the life sciences industry always tell me that they need skilled workers, such as lab
technicians and individuals who have had hands-on training in biomanufacturing,” said Dr.
Susan Windham-Bannister, President and CEO of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center. “This
is where the Center can make a difference – our Equipment and Supplies Program for Skills
Training and Education stimulates the creation of partnerships between industry and educational
organizations to truly provide the Commonwealth’s students and displaced workers with hands-
on training in the use of modern equipment. We are especially proud that we could help so many
worthy programs across the state.”
Banafsheh Salamat, the head of the Science Department at Lynn Vocational Technical Institute
(LVTI), plans to use the equipment award to create a new biotechnology course. “This program
will bring technology to low-income teenagers, engage students from underrepresented
populations and impact their job opportunities in the near future.” Vertex Pharmaceuticals is the
industry sponsor for LVTI, generously providing surplus equipment valued at $102,000 and
pledging ongoing advisory support.
"Vertex is a strong supporter of science education, and we are excited to support the Lynn
Vocational Technical Institute in the development of their new biotechnology program. By
providing the school with much-needed supplies and equipment, we not only give them access to
key technologies and resources, but we are also enabling them to secure additional funding from
the Center,” said Peter Mueller, Ph.D., Executive Vice President, Global Research and
Development and Chief Scientific Officer for Vertex.
“We are very pleased to receive this award for the expanded training opportunities it will provide
to our biotechnology students,” said Mount Wachusett Community College President Daniel M.
Asquino. “Our relationship with industry, and specifically with our sponsor Bristol-Myers
Squibb, has helped us identify unmet training needs that are best addressed with technology
currently in use by industry. Thanks to the support of the Commonwealth, through the
Massachusetts Life Sciences Center Grant we will be able to provide advanced cell culture,
microbial analysis, cleaning validation, and process analysis training previously not available.”
At Westfield Vocational Technical High School, the Manufacturing Technology Department is
excited to expand its precision manufacturing curriculum to include training for
biomanufacturing. Clement Fucci, the Department Head, expressed the school’s enthusiasm for
the opportunity presented by the grant. “This grant will allow us to expose our manufacturing
technology students to the tools needed to manufacture biomedical components."
“This funding is critical for us to continue to provide a training bridge for low-income adults
from racially and culturally diverse backgrounds to be prepared for entry-level jobs in the
biotechnology industry,” said Gordon N. Gottsche, Executive Director of Just-A-Start in
Cambridge, a workforce training program that partners with Bunker Hill Community College
and the City of Cambridge.