New network will expand biotechnology education and encourage research opportunities at two-year colleges nationwide

Winston-Salem, N.C. – Forsyth Technical Community College was awarded more than half a million dollars from the National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education (NSF-ATE) to develop a new national biotechnology education center to address the rapidly growing need for highly skilled technicians in biotechnology.

Forsyth Tech, awarded $535,297 for this particular grant, is the home for the National Center for Biotechnology Workforce which focuses on capacity building, best practice and skills standard generation. This is the third award of more than half a million dollars from the National Science Foundation. A recent grant focused on defining the workforce skills technicians will need for manufacturing jobs where biomedical devices intersect with tissue engineering.

“This network will transform the biotech educational landscape,” said Russ Read, executive director for the NCBW. “Working across geographic regions will foster connections between students, institutions, industry and community. By galvanizing these connections, we can ensure the biotechnology sector continues to thrive with a pipeline of highly skilled graduates, and future leaders in education.”

For this award, Forsyth Tech is one of eight organizations who were granted $7.5 million total. Beginning this month, Austin Community College in Texas will lead the project. Austin Community College will create the InnovATEBIO National Biotechnology Education Center — named for the connectivity between advanced technological education and biotechnology education — to consolidate several biotech education projects into a national network. This network will share best practices and expand research opportunities for students at two-year institutions. The InnovATEBIO will also focus on biotechnology technician education across the country, with a specific focus on strengthening connections between high school and community college programs to increase the number of high school students recruited to biotechnology. The center also will provide early research experience and hands-on learning opportunities in the community college.

Other partners in this grant include:

  • Finger Lakes Community College, Canandaigua, New York
  • Madison College, Madison, Wisconsin
  • Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories (DNA Learning Center), Cold Spring Harbor, New York
  • NY City College of Technology, New York, New York
  • Digital World Biology, Seattle, Washington.
  • Bay Area Bioscience Education Community, San Francisco, California.
  • Baltimore City Community College, Baltimore, Maryland.
  • Washington State University, Pullman, Washington.

“I am so proud of the innovative work we are doing at Forsyth Tech through the National Center for Biotechnology Workforce. Our students gain early research experience, hands-on training and marketable skills that employers are looking for. The nation will not be able to fill high-tech research and development positions without engaging with its most diverse student populations, which can largely be found in community colleges. Together we are bridging the gaps in biotechnology education,” said Forsyth Tech President Janet Spriggs.

For more information on the National Center for Biotech Workforce, contact Russ Read at

About the National Center for the Biotechnology Workforce
 The National Center for the Biotechnology Workforce has strong ties to national bioscience workforce development back to 2005. It has led several federally funded bioscience workforce initiatives. The National Center for the Biotechnology Workforce work focuses on capacity building, best practice and skills standard generation. The National Center for Biotechnology Workforce is part of the Economic Development Workforce of Forsyth Technical Community College. The laboratory is open to qualified tenants as well as educational instructors and grant partners. For more information, see

About Forsyth Technical Community College

 Forsyth Technical Community College is a catalyst for equitable economic mobility, empowering lives and transforming communities. The college offers associate degrees, diplomas, and certificates in over 200 programs of study, including programs that promote personal and professional development through non-credit courses and seminars, as well as customized training for business and industry. Forsyth Tech serves more than 35,000 students with approximately 1,500 full and part-time faculty and staff. For additional information, visit and follow on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.

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