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STLCC Receives NSF Grant for Bio-Bench Project

July 28, 2008

St. Louis Community College has received a major grant from the National Science Foundation to develop skilled bench technicians for the growing life sciences industry.


STLCC received a grant in the amount of $679,487 for the Bio-Bench Project, which will 

  • Assist growing companies in their early stages.
  • Establish a training center through which companies can contract work to STLCC’s training programs, allowing them to get work completed locally, use equipment to which they don’t have access, and train technicians in real-life, hands-on applications.
  • Expand and enhance the existing Pathways program, a collaborative partnership with Better Family Life Inc. that trains unemployed and underemployed individuals for entry-level positions in biotechnology and the life sciences.
  • Provide awareness programs for St. Louis area middle and high school students about plant and life sciences careers.
  • Train local teachers on plant and life sciences-related concepts and procedures to raise awareness about employment opportunities in the industry.

"The region has lost developing companies due to a lack of lab space and economic incentives," said Richard Norris, Ph.D., STLCC’s director of the Center for Plant and Life Sciences. "By establishing a training center, technicians in training can be used at little or no cost to the companies. That gives them an economic incentive to stay in the region. Students in the program will gain cutting-edge technical skills and scientific knowledge to advance their future careers in the life sciences."


The Bio-Bench Project addresses specific recommendations from the Battelle Memorial Institute’s study of the region’s efforts to grow the plant and life sciences. Two of those recommendations were to develop and expand career opportunities with community college and vocational partnerships to reach inner-city minority youth, and explore ways to expand STLCC’s biotechnology offerings by providing space in new multi-tenant buildings for educational purposes.


Other partners in the project are the Danforth Plant Science Center, the Nidus Center for Scientific Enterprise, STLCC’s Workforce and Community Development division, and Better Family Life.