[Press Release] GMGI and Gloucester Biotechnology Academy Cuts Ribbon on New Biomanufacturing Learning Environment

(GLOUCESTER, MA) The new, state-of-the-art biomanufacturing learning environment at GMGI’s Gloucester Biotechnology Academy in Blackburn Center is complete and prepared for its first group of students. On Wednesday, September 8, GMGI staff were joined by Governor Charlie Baker, Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Mike Kennealy, Representative Ann-Margaret Ferrante, and others to cut the ribbon on the new laboratory space. The celebration took place a short 18 months after the announcement of a $940K Workforce Skills Capital grant from the Baker administration, which allowed for the building and completion of the space. The grant was generously matched by contributions from industry and private philanthropy for a budget total of $1.546M.

“Our administration has been proud to support GMGI’s new Gloucester Biotechnology Academy in Blackburn Center through a Workforce Skills Capital Grant, and we’re excited about the future of GMGI’s programming with this new facility,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Over the years, we have gotten to know the team at GMGI and the incredible work they are doing connecting people with the skills they need to compete in Massachusetts’ growing life sciences sector, and we look forward to continuing to collaborate with them in the future.”

“Massachusetts’ STEM fields like life sciences are poised for growth in the coming years, and organizations like GMGI are doing groundbreaking work to build our talent pipeline here in the Commonwealth,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “With this exciting new facility, GMGI will be able to expand its programming to help more students connect with biomanufacturing career pathways.”

The new 3,200 sq. ft. facility, designed pro-bono by architectural design firm Payette, features an open-concept classroom, a state-of-the-art biomanufacturing laboratory, an instrument room, and additional office and storage space. This expansion enables the Academy to double the annual class size from the current 20 students to 40 students, and award a certificate that will include this critically important skill set.

The addition of biomanufacturing to the Academy curriculum opens up many more options for Academy graduates, at the same time addressing the growing demand for a workforce to meet the needs of the booming biotech industry in the Commonwealth. “With the biotech and life sciences sectors growing at breakneck speeds in Massachusetts, we saw an opportunity to align our proven education model with industry needs,” said Christine Bolzan, GMGI’s Executive Director. “Providing our graduates with this new skillset will not only increase their options and confidence as professionals, it gives area biotech and life science companies a pipeline of well-prepared, trained lab technicians.”

Biomanufacturing is a next-generation production method that uses cell lines (typically bacteria, yeast, and mammalian cells) to generate commercially relevant materials including pharmaceuticals, foods and beverages, plastics and other industrial applications. The Academy has invested in cutting-edge equipment that will enable graduates to pursue careers in modern bioprocessing laboratories. It has also brought on a full-time lead teacher with deep industry experience, Stephen F. Anderson, PhD, who will lead the biomanufacturing curriculum.

The Academy’s sixth class, which began only a day prior on September 7th, will be the first cohort to utilize the space and benefit from the retooled, comprehensive curriculum. “To have the opportunity to expand in such a significant way, both physically in lab space and equipment — and in critical skills that we can offer our students — is incredibly exciting and something we are very proud of.” said John Doyle, GMGI Education Director. “Today represents years of hard work from the entire team, and is a wonderful milestone for the Academy.”

Gloucester Marine Genomics Institute is a non-profit enterprise that is conducting world-class marine biotechnology research which expands the regional economy. GMGI’s Gloucester Biotechnology Academy, a 10-month certificate training program to train recent high school graduates for careers as lab technicians, recently graduated its fifth class. Gloucester Marine Genomics Institute’s state-of-the-art research institute on Gloucester harbor opened in 2018, and is located at 417 Main Street. Please visit www.gmgi.org and follow GMGI on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn for more information.