BELLEVUE, WASH. — Bellevue Community College (BCC) has received a grant of $775,000 from the U.S. Department of Labor to help create a National Center for the Biotechnology Workforce.
U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao identified BCC as one of “five premier community colleges” selected to establish the Center. BCC’s specific contribution will be to develop a national Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics.
Bioinformatics, a rapidly growing specialty within the field of biotechnology, uses information science and technology to manage and analyze the increasingly vast, complex body of life sciences data. Bioinformatics specialists are typically engaged in gene and molecular studies and in drug research and development, with new applications emerging in biomanufacturing and healthcare.
In developing a Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics, BCC will create national skills standards in bioinformatics; design curriculum for college and high school use nationwide; provide faculty development; and offer classroom and on-line training. Collaborating with BCC in these activities will be Geospiza, Inc., a Seattle-based producer of bioinformatics software, tools and systems.
BCC’s work in bioinformatics will be complemented by similar projects in other biotechnology specialties at four additional Centers of Excellence throughout the nation. Collectively, the five programs will collaborate as the National Center for the Biotechnology Workforce. Through this center, curricula and training models will be developed for all major segments of biotechnology. While BCC will focus on bioinformatics, Forsyth Technical Community College in North Carolina will focus on biotechnology research and development; MiraCosta Community College in California will highlight bioprocessing; Indian Hills Community College in Iowa will emphasize agriculture and food processing; and New Hampshire Technical College will concentrate on biomanufacturing.
“We’re delighted to be selected to be part of the National Center for the Biotechnology Workforce,” noted BCC President Jean Floten. “Having played a major role in developing skills standards, curriculum and professional development programming in information technology, we look forward now to doing the same in the emerging field of bioinformatics. In addition to its national applications, we hope our work will contribute to the overall development of our own region as a hub of biotechnology.”
“Bioinformatics provides both the wheels and the highway for life sciences research and discovery,” said Geospiza, Inc. President and Chief Operating Officer Rob Arnold. “As early pioneers in bringing together best practices in scientific methods with best practices in computing, Geospiza has long contributed to and supported bioinformatics education as the critical fuel for growth of this industry. We are delighted to see locally-based Bellevue Community College become a national Center of Excellence for Bioinformatics and are privileged to partner with BCC in its development. Geospiza, as well as its more than 10,000 customers around the globe, will be well-served by BCC graduates ready to join their scientific colleagues in efficiently accelerating both the pace and quality of scientific discoveries, enabled by the kinds of new analytics tools emerging today.”
Bellevue Community College already offers a certificate program in bioinformatics through its Continuing Education division.
Serving more than 39,000 students annually, Bellevue Community College is Washington state’s third largest educational institution. BCC offers transfer study (the first two years of college) as well as work-related programs in information technology, health sciences and many other fields. BCC’s Continuing Education division offers programs in computing, various work-related topics, art, travel, languages and personal enrichment, as well as business contract training and small business development. Visit BCC on the web at www.bcc.ctc.edu.