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June 23, 2015


Jack Beresford

Local High School Students Begin Training
for Intensive Internships at Leading
Biotechnology Companies
Some three dozen high school students from throughout San Diego
County have begun an intensive eight-week program that includes
hands-on research at The Scripps Research Institute, The Salk
Institute, and UC San Diego.

The annual Life Science Summer Institute (LSSI) began Monday

with Bootcamp, one-week, pre-internship laboratory training
program at San Diego Miramar College and Grossmont College in
El Cajon. A collaboration between the San Diego Workforce
Partnership, the Southern California Biotechnology Center (SCBC)
at Miramar College, and BIOCOM, LSSI began in 2005 to
strengthen science and math education in San Diego County and
inspire more high school students to pursue careers in the region’s
burgeoning life sciences industry.
This week’s Bootcamp will give the students 40 hours of lab
training so they can immediately contribute once they begin their
internship. Among the lessons are learning the correct protocols in
preparing solutions, becoming comfortable with laboratory
techniques, and understanding the importance of teamwork.
Interns go through an extensive application process, and all must
have a minimum grade point average of 3.0 to apply. Students also
must craft an essay explaining their interest, solicit two letters of
recommendation, and submit a cover letter, resume, and school
transcripts. More than 300 students applied for three dozen
available internships.
“It’s a very competitive process,” said Dr. Sandra Slivka, who has
been the SCBC director since it opened at San Diego Miramar
College in 2004. “They’re doing high-level research.”
Two instructors each from both Grossmont and Miramar colleges
are teaching at the Bootcamp.

“Grossmont College’s mission includes providing an exceptional
learning environment that enables diverse individuals to pursue
their dreams, so we are proud to host a week of workshops that
will give these young students invaluable experience as they begin
their journey into critical STEM fields,” said Interim Grossmont
College President Tim Flood.
It would be hard to overstate the biotechnology industry’s impact
on the regional economy. According to a San Diego Workforce
Partnership report released last fall, the life sciences industry
employs nearly 45,000 people and generates about $16 billion in
annual sales revenue. The average life science sector employee
earns an annual median salary of approximately $125,000.
“The Life Science Summer Institute plays a critical role in
preparing future professionals for the skills they will need to
flourish in the biotechnology sector,” said Peter Callstrom,

President and CEO of the San Diego Workforce Partnership. “The
life sciences industry is a vital component in the regional economy,
and so it is important that we do everything we can for the whole
workforce continuum, from K-12 to college and beyond, all the
way to the workforce, to make sure that biotechnology has a
pipeline of trained workers.”
The Southern California Biotechnology Center at Miramar College
has been tabbed to play a key role in workforce development, and
it has, for more than a decade, collaborated with the region’s
booming life sciences industry as a training ground for teachers,
students, and those already working in the field.
Other SCBC efforts include a Summer Science Enrichment
Program for students entering grades 5 through 8 for hands-on
lessons. biology, chemistry, physics and physiology; a Biotech
Employment Skills Training Program designed for job and
internship seekers and those already employed in the sciences; and
an Industry Innovation Internship Program that pairs a student with
a faculty member and an industry worker to collaborate on a
specific project. The program prepares the student for a job,
provides the faculty member with industry perspective on skills
and knowledge, and the industry worker gets help with his project
– along with perspective of the educational system’s efforts.
The SCBC has trained more than 120 teachers and more than 300
counselors through workshops, internships and other programs
since 2007 while donating millions of dollars in supplies to local
schools. The California Community Colleges’ Chancellor’s Office
recently awarded the SCBC two grants totaling $572,500 through
its Doing What Matters for Jobs and the Economy program.