MCLA Receives Over $250,000 from MA Life Sciences Center to Improve Biology, Chemistry, and Science Programs

September 7, 2022

The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, under the Workforce Development Capital Program, has awarded MCLA a grant to purchase essential equipment to advance the biology, chemistry, and health sciences fields.  

In an effort to advance student training and career preparation, the College has received $253,542 to be utilized over the next two fiscal years. The equipment purchases will allow MCLA to continue to pursue a robust, interdisciplinary approach to a Life Sciences curriculum that prepares students for a variety of careers in research, biomanufacturing, teaching, diagnosis, lifesaving treatment, and other biotechnology fields.   

“Thanks to institutions such as MCLA, we are able to continue to accelerate educational and geographic equity in the life sciences,” said Massachusetts Life Sciences Center President and CEO Kenneth Turner. “Western Massachusetts has a growing cluster of innovation and entrepreneurship. We are emboldened by the opportunities to support economic and workforce development in this region that is critical to our strategy for remaining the global leader in the life sciences.” 

Degree programs that focus on quality assurance or quality control are essential to support the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry. Tools and supplies that support such programs include a Fourier transform infrared spectrometer (FTIR), an osmometer, sonicator, and lyophilizer, which are important in pharmaceutical design, manufacturing, and biomedical research. Additionally, common equipment such as pH meters and micropipettes will be updated, and more sophisticated instruments such as the inductively-coupled plasma optical emission spectrometer (ICP-OES) and gas chromatograph (GC) will receive maintenance and updated parts in order to improve data integrity and accuracy. These specific instruments are equivalent or identical to the equipment of our industry partners, and crucial to student training and career preparation.   

“The Workforce Development Capital Program is a fundamental stepping stone for MCLA to reach new heights and allow students to attain necessary skills in health sciences,” said MCLA President Dr. James F. Birge. “I’m elated to hear that the College can better support our liberal arts programs by strengthening the life sciences studies and attain tools that are equivalent to those being used in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry.” 

Birge continued, “Industry partners have emphasized a need for students with a strong liberal arts background in the fundamentals of life sciences. We are grateful for Lever Executive Director Jeffrey Thomas and Berkshire Sterile Manufacturing Chief Technical Officer & Co-founder Dr. Andrea Wagner for being our committed partners in this work.” 

“Typically, small liberal arts colleges such as MCLA offer students close mentorship by faculty and small, intimate, hands-on class experiences, while larger institutions provide more state-of-the-art equipment and resources,” said Professor of Chemistry Dr. Carolyn Dehner. She and fellow faculty members Professor of Biology Dr. Ann Billetz and Chair and Associate Professor of Biology Dr. Justin Golub said what makes this partnership between MCLA and MLSC so powerful is that students will benefit from the best of both worlds. “Since we have such a small student-to-faculty ratio, all our biology and chemistry students will have the opportunity to train on the most advanced technology currently being utilized by biotech and health science industries in the Berkshires and across Massachusetts.” 

About the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center: 
The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center’s mission is to serve as the hub of the world’s life sciences ecosystem, encourage innovation through investments in good science and business, strengthen and protect Massachusetts’ global leadership position in the life sciences, accelerate the commercialization of promising treatments, therapies, and cures that will improve patient care, create jobs, drive economic development and STEM workforce development. 

About MCLA:
At MCLA, we’re here for all — and focused on each — of our students. Classes are taught by educators who care deeply about teaching, and about seeing their students thrive on every level of their lives. Nearly 93% of our graduates land competitive jobs or are accepted by some of the best grad schools in the country. We engage in the most nationally relevant conversations by hosting some of the most celebrated thinkers and speakers on our campus in the Berkshires of Massachusetts, an area known for its mountain ranges, hiking trails, and panoramic views. Our home town of North Adams is brimming with young, creative energy and the regional economy is booming as a result. In nearly every way possible, the experience at MCLA is designed to elevate you as an individual, a leader, and a communicator, fully empowered to make your impression on the world. 

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