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SMC to Launch New Equity-Centered Biotech Program with $1 Milllion Grant

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By Lookout Staff

February 9, 2023 -- Santa Monica College (SMC) will launch a new "equity-centered" biotech career program to help fill a growing demand for "cancer-fighting scientists" in the region, school officials said.

The program -- which consists of two stackable certificates and an associate degree -- is funded with a $1 million grant from the Keck Foundation.

The grant "will enable SMC to expand training capacity, improve recruitment and outreach efforts, acquire industry-specific training equipment, and enhance teaching-learning spaces to align with biotech industry standards," SMC officials said.

“The biotech industry is seeing massive growth in the very regions where some of the most socio-economically disadvantaged SMC students reside,” said SMC Superintendent/President Dr. Kathryn E. Jeffery.

“This new program will create a direct industry pipeline for our deserving students who will be trained in cutting-edge cell science and immunoassay technologies. We are tremendously grateful to the Keck Foundation for this generous gift!”

SMC’s biotech program -- which has has been endorsed by the Los Angeles Regional Consortium of Community Colleges -- received seed funding from the National Science Foundation and federal Perkins V.

The curriculum has been vetted and approved by industry experts, including experts from Kite, A Gilead Company, Amgen and BioRad.

“The W.M Keck Foundation’s generosity will allow us to prepare the next generation of diverse scientists, highlighting that everyone belongs and is welcomed in science,” said Dr. Andria Denmon, who helped design the program.

“This program is unique because we are designing it to be inclusive of as many students’ unique backgrounds and experiences as possible," Denmon said.

"Science has the power to open multiple doors, and we want to make sure our students are first in line when those doors open.”

The LA area hosts more than 1,000 life science innovation companies that generate $60 billion in economic activity, according to the 2021 California Economic Impact Report.

Some 16,000 technical jobs will be added to the rapidly growing sector over the next three years, college officials said.

Nationally, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts employment demand for lab techs will grow 11 percent by 2028, much faster than average.

For more information on the biotech program, email

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