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Beginning in Fall 2022, Emmanuel College will offer a major in biotechnology within the School of Science & Health.

In a city with a rapidly expanding biotech industry and a shortage in trained workforce, Emmanuel’s program has been designed to meet the evolving needs of both undergraduates and professions.   

The growing field of biotechnology focuses on the application of the biological sciences and biochemistry to develop technologies and products that improve public health and the health of our planet.  

Students in the College’s new major will complete a rigorous biology curriculum, which includes a new course in biotechnology applications, and receive training in the laboratory methods required to carry out biotechnology research and apply their assessment of scientific literature to research that has the potential to be commercialized. Additionally, through courses within the School of Business & Management, students will understand basic principles of organizational behavior, management and business strategy—a component of Emmanuel’s biotechnology major that sets the College’s program apart from its peer institutions. 

“Our student scientists already have an excellent liberal arts and sciences education including training in research, scientific writing, and communication, and now with the addition of biotech-focused courses and internships, as well several biotech-relevant management classes, we are positioning our biotechnology graduates to excel in careers full of purpose in the booming Boston biopharma sector,” said Dr. Padraig Deighan, an associate professor of biology and chair of the biology department. 

In a 2021 ranking of the nation’s top 10 biotechnology clusters, Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News placed Boston-Cambridge at the number one spot based on criteria such as National Institutes of Health and venture capital funding, patents, lab space and jobs. 

The area is home to biotech and biopharma powerhouses such as Biogen, Genzyme, Moderna, and Merck Research Laboratories Boston, which is located on Emmanuel’s campus, as well as incubators such as LabCentral, a non-profit founded in 2013 as a launchpad for high-potential life sciences and biotech start-ups, which has since served as a launchpad for Emmanuel alumni careers in the field.   

Alongside medical breakthroughs such as Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, Boston-area startups are developing virtual reality experiences to treat cognitive disorders, exploring alternatives for human testing by engineering materials that behave like human specimens, creating wearable technologies that use AI to develop targeted treatment for chronic illnesses, and addressing public health issues such as food science, air quality and age-related diseases and more. 

Emmanuel’s Fenway neighborhood is poised for the region’s next biotechnology boost, with an approved 550,000 square feet of life science space slated for development at 401 Park Drive, and another laboratory building under construction at 201 Brookline Avenue, with space leased to Verve Therapeutics.

These game-changing organizations are looking for the best and brightest in the future talent pipeline. The 2021 Massachusetts Life Sciences Employment Outlook reported the Boston area biotechnology industry will generate more than 20,000 net new jobs across all occupations from STEM fields to sales, production, management and business functions through 2024—but with a talent supply deficit of more than 3,000 research scientists.

A skilled workforce pipeline is needed for these roles given that over the last four years, among job postings that included educational requirements, 90% of Massachusetts’ life sciences firms are looking for candidates with a bachelor’s or higher degree (Burning Glass). From Emmanuel’s historic placement data, many graduates of the College’s biology program remain locally in the Boston and New England region.

The College is taking steps to address the life sciences workforce challenge through a recent $50,000 grant from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC). With MLSC support, Emmanuel aims to develop a professional pathway to careers in the life sciences for underrepresented sophomores in the Colleges of the Fenway through the new Persons Excluded for Ethnicity or Race (PEER) Center of Excellence in Leadership and Life Sciences (CELL) program. The program will prepare students for a summer internship at a Boston-area life sciences company and offer open laboratory time on Emmanuel’s campus as well as specialized assistance in finding an internship and a professional mentor in their field of study.

“We look forward to our graduates continuing to excel in these companies and helping contribute solutions to unmet medical needs and transforming patient lives,” said. Dr. Deighan.