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Foundation Creates Mini-Campaign to Support Biotech Program

The Middlesex County College Foundation recently hosted a breakfast meeting so that industry and four-year educational institutions can learn about the new biotechnology program at the College. The Foundation has developed a mini-fundraising campaign to support scholarships, the purchase of specialized lab equipment for the biotech laboratory and for outreach programs to interest high school students in the field.

"The Foundation is seeking support from biotechnology and biopharmaceutical leaders throughout the region to advance the comprehensive development of this worthwhile educational and program," said Rose Cafone, associate executive director of the Foundation, who spoke at the meeting. "In addition to learning about the scope of the new developments in biotechnology at MCC, we hope that you will also come to understand that the support of our corporate neighbors is important for the program to reach its full potential. We hope that you will consider what this program has to offer your organization and what your company can do to help us enhance this program to reach its full potential. We feel that with the combined support and participation of many organizations within the biotech industry, this program will become the best it can be."

Biotechnology is the science of using living organisms to produce useful products. Biotechnologists can create new and better crops to feed people, develop oil-eating bacteria to combat oil spills and other environmental problems, make vaccines, antibiotics, antibodies, organs for transplantation, improved crops and biodegradable plastics. Biotechnology is essential to medicine, medical diagnoses, drug production, genetic testing, gene therapy, agriculture, genetic engineering, forensics and environmental protection.

The Biotechnology Program, which began this semester, articulates seamlessly with the Rutgers University Biotechnology Bachelor of Science Degree. Middlesex students who graduate with a grade point average of 3.0 or better in Biotechnology will be guaranteed admission into the highly competitive Rutgers University School of Environmental and Biological Sciences Biotechnology program.

Professor Uma Narayanan, program director, said that it is critical for the College to take the lead in this field because of the need for pharmaceutical companies in the central New Jersey area to hire highly qualified employees.

"New Jersey is a global leader in biotechnology and is home to one of the greatest concentrations of biotechnology industries in the world," she said. "Therefore, it is important for New Jersey to continually develop a talented biotech workforce."

There are numerous career paths available for graduates in research, manufacturing, business, clinical development, quality control, regulatory affairs and sales and marketing.

Karen Hays, vice president for academic and student affairs, said Professor Narayanan recently coordinated a workshop for central New Jersey colleges and universities to discuss curriculum development in Biotechnology and the potential for articulation agreements.

"These new developments in the Biotechnology Program at Middlesex will serve as a model program for other community colleges throughout the state to expand their programs and meet the needs of industry," Dr. Hays said.

In addition, the College is working on developing biotechnology articulation agreements with St. Peter's College, Rider University, Monmouth University, Kean University, Ramapo College, NJIT and Thomas Jefferson University in Pennsylvania.

The Foundation's mini-fundraising campaign has a goal of $300,000 over three years, with one-third of that coming this academic year. The chair of the campaign is Praful Raja, a College trustee and the president of Diagnostic Specialties, and it includes Anna Gosiewska, senior director of research and development at Ethicon, and College Board Secretary Hank Bauer, retired vice president for manufacturing operations for Bristol-Myers Squibb.

It is raising funds for three areas: Scholarships that will provide deserving students with the financial opportunity to achieve their educational goals; purchasing specialized and sophisticated lab equipment for the designated new laboratory that will provide a state-of-the-art learning facility; and to develop outreach programs, including workshops designed to excite high school students and engage them in the biosciences.

The Foundation has already received a lead gift of $23,250 from Bristol-Myers Squibb.

For more information on the Biotechnology Campaign, please contact Rose Cofone, associate executive director of Middlesex County College Foundation, at 732-906-2593.