Academy Highlights: Semester Two and Internships

On December 23 the holidays arrived early at Gloucester Biotechnology Academy. That’s when the plate glass windows on the front of the building were removed so the benches, cabinets, and specialized equipment required for the new cell culture lab could be installed. This new lab is the result of a Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC) Small Capital Grant that was awarded in 2019 to augment the Academy curriculum and teach students how to grow mammalian cells.

Students spent two weeks in January learning how to culture mammalian cells in vitro, a highly specialized and sought-after skill in the biotechnology industry. During the two-week growth period, students were able to maintain their cell lines, effectively thawing, feeding, and passaging cells to promote healthy propagation and prevent contamination by foreign entities such as fungi or bacteria. The workflow for mammalian cell culture is highly specialized compared to the rest of the Academy curriculum, due to the demand for aseptic (contamination-free) technique. Not surprisingly, the Academy students picked up the techniques quickly, with several stating that they would like to pursue cell culture in their internships and beyond. As a result of its resounding success, instructors plan to incorporate three weeks of mammalian cell culture into next year’s curriculum.

Following the conclusion of the second semester, students began their internships on February 24 at some of the most elite academic and industry labs in the region. The final list of academic laboratories and companies supporting our students is as follows: Addgene (Watertown), Bauer Core Facility (Harvard University), Cell Signaling Technology (Danvers), Dana Farber Cancer Institute – D’Andrea Laboratory (Boston), Institute for Protein Innovation (Boston), LifeMine Therapeutics (Cambridge), MIT Synthetic Biology Laboratory (Cambridge), Pandion Therapeutics (Cambridge), Sherlock Biosciences (Cambridge), Spectrus (Beverly), and Synlogic (Cambridge).

The start of the students’ internships was strong and they hit the ground running, enjoying the challenge of being immersed in a professional laboratory. Unfortunately, most of these internships have been disrupted in the current environment, with many labs and universities closing and asking staff to work from home. GMGI is in close contact with our internship partners in Boston and the North Shore to navigate this challenging time, and to ensure that our students are able to pick up right where they left off when all activity resumes.