At its simplest, biotechnology is technology based on biology, using cellular and bimolecular processes to develop technologies and products that improve our lives. But at URI, biotechnology education and training programs are also growing jobs for the rapidly growing biopharmaceutical industry.
From medical lab sciences to cytotechnology to biotech manufacturing and more, URI’s Providence Biotechnology Center attracts students from backgrounds as varied as banking, K-12 education, manufacturing, and military service. The Center is also hub for several biotechnology programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels, as well as the Institute for Immunology and Informatics, and K-12 and industry training.
“It’s all about helping people, pinpointing the disease, finding ways to fight disease, and it’s my way of helping the community.”
Many of our biotech offerings are designed with an intensive first year of coursework, a “biotech bootcamp” during which students might work on vaccine development or study diseases that have affected their own families, followed by a summer or full-year internship with a life sciences company here in Rhode Island or as far away as Australia. After the interships, many students have to juggle numerous job opportunities, and most choose to enter the biotech workforce and complete the biotech program on a part-time basis.
Take Lori Darling, who received five biotech job offers. She worked in the semiconductor manufacturing industry before enrolling in the biotech manufacturing program. “I was looking for something that could take my interests and my life experience and put them together into one academic program. I couldn’t believe it was really going to happen,” she says.
For former construction worker Brent Palavra, it’s about people. “It’s all about helping people, pinpointing the disease, finding ways to fight disease, and it’s my way of helping the community.” Fellow student Anthony Marcello agrees. “I want to be doing something to help people, and that’s what biotechnology is all about. I want to be able to look back at what I’ve done and know that I have contributed to humanity.”