Focus on STEM

The Biomedical Technician Training (BTT) program, jointly developed by The Wistar Institute and Community College of Philadelphia, is designed to prepare students for new career opportunities as research technicians. The rigorous academic coursework at Community College of Philadelphia is combined with specialized training in research laboratories at The Wistar Institute and other affiliated research institutes. This dual experience offers students seeking an associate’s degree the opportunity to acquire the skills to qualify for positions as technicians in prominent biomedical research laboratories. Since the partnership began in 2000, the BTT program has provided a pathway to the workforce for 140 graduates. Fifty-six students found full-time or part-time research assistant positions within the first year. Traditionally, these positions are held by graduates of four-year baccalaureate programs.

Supporting the growth and expansion of that workforce has long been the vision, and, this year, The Wistar Institute became home to the first registered, nontraditional apprenticeship in biomedical research to be approved by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry. The Biomedical Research Training (BRT) Apprenticeship program, the first of its kind in the nation, is open to students at Community College of Philadelphia. Participants who first have to complete the BTT program, will receive more hands-on research and a total of 1,286 hours of training. This allows apprentices to gain valuable technical skills, exposure to the field and credentials, which will jumpstart them on their way to successful careers seeking treatments to diseases such as cancer and HIV.

“We are proud that the BRT program is the first science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM), nontraditional apprenticeship model supporting the development of the biotech labor force in Pennsylvania,” said Dario C. Altieri, M.D., president and CEO of Wistar.