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The Wistar Institute has launched a new program training students to work in biotech laboratories and in manufacturing cell and gene therapies.

Credit: Serena Jankovic

The Wistar Institute — a biomedical research organization with ties to Penn — began a new training program for aspiring biomedical technicians.

The 12-week paid program will consist of a cohort of 18 students who will train to work in biotech laboratories and in manufacturing cell and gene therapies, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The students will then have the opportunity to work for 10 weeks at Iovance Biotherapeutics Inc., and to ultimately work in a manufacturing job paying $23 per hour. 

Since the start of the program’s recruitment on Aug. 23, at least 263 people have applied. Students will begin training on Sept. 22, the Inquirer reported. 

In collaboration with the Wistar Institute is the University City District’s West Philadelphia Skills Initiative, which is in charge of recruitment for the Iovance training. The recruitment process includes a math skills check and an interview, managing director of WPSI Cait Garozzo said. 

“We’re not trying to connect people that just want any job to this opportunity. We’re trying to connect people that want a career in this industry to this opportunity,” Garozzo told the Inquirer.

Wistar’s new program is an extension of its original program started in the year 2000, reported the Inquirer. The original program graduated 196 students and consisted of a general preparation to work in the biotech industry or pursue further education. 

“It is a wonderful, exciting, and unique opportunity for these students, both underrepresented folks and regular folks. And to give them actual training like this is unparalleled,” BioAnalysis founder and president Lake Paul said.

The new program follows Philadelphia’s growth in the life science hub and the biotechnological sector. In 2025, Pennovation Works will open a $365 million facility to bring more biotech companies to Philadelphia.