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BTT Group 2022

Biomedical Technician Training Program

The Biomedical Technician Training (BTT) Program was created by Dr. William Wunner at The Wistar Institute in partnership with Community College of Philadelphia (CCP) in 2000. In 2019 the BTT Program became a registered pre-apprenticeship that can lead into Wistar’s Fox Biomedical Research Technician (BRT) Apprenticeship

Originally, a two-summer program, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and increased demand for more, well-trained laboratory technicians and research assistants in life sciences in the Greater Philadelphia region, Wistar accelerated the BTT Program and is expanding the number of students training in each cohort, the number of cohorts supported each year, and the reach of the program. 

With funding from a National Science Foundation (NSF) Advanced Technological Education (ATE) grant entitled, ExCEEd BTT: Expansion, Curriculum Evolution, and Enhancement during BioTechnician Training, the BTT Program is expanding to additional community colleges in the region, including Montgomery County Community College, Bucks County Community College, and Delaware County Community College (which also serves Chester County) in Pennsylvania, and Camden County College in New Jersey. The BTT Program now incorporates a novel, project-based curriculum using authentic Wistar research from the lab of Maureen Murphy, Ph.D., Program Leader of the Molecular & Cellular Oncogenesis Program at Wistar’s Ellen and Ronald Caplan Cancer Center. Students investigate how a variant of the tumor suppressor p53 more common in individuals of African and Hispanic descent can be used to improve cancer treatment, and in the process learn in-demand laboratory skills in our new training lab.    Finally, students are able to apply and practice these skills and learn more specialized techniques in laboratory experiences/internships at The Wistar Institute and other area institutions.

The new accelerated model for the BTT Program allows students at different stages of their education and career to prepare for positions as laboratory technicians and research assistants in both academic and industry labs. Trainees acquire the skills necessary to carry out basic discovery research and contribute to the development of novel biotechnology and pharmaceutical products. After completion of the BTT Program, trainees can obtain positions which are traditionally held by graduates of four-year baccalaureate programs. 


Course Work

Students should successfully complete at least one semester of college-level Chemistry and one semester of Biology for science majors with a focus on molecular and cellular topics before starting their hands-on training at Wistar. Additional pre-requisite courses in English, mathematics and computer literacy may also be required. 

Laboratory Component

Laboratory Orientation 
Through laboratory exercises, experiments, tutorials, and problem-solving sessions, BTT students learn and practice general biomedical laboratory skills during the first two weeks of training at The Wistar Institute. This training takes place in Wistar’s recently renovated 1,700 square-foot, dedicated training laboratory and adjacent tissue culture room.  

Laboratory Experiences/Internships 
In order to apply their technical skills, trainees are placed in two different laboratories for 5-week work experiences designed to expose them to the diversity of biomedical research. These internships are hosted at The Wistar Institute or one of our academic or industry collaborators including:

  • University of Pennsylvania
  • Fox Chase Cancer Center
  • Integral Molecular
  • Invisible Sentinel
  • BioAnalysis
  • Chimeron Bio
  • Vittoria Biotherapeutics 

Students are paid during the laboratory training. Through these mentored laboratory experiences, they continue to develop their technical and professional skills while contributing to the goals of the laboratory.

Career Opportunities

The BTT Program has been preparing students for exciting careers in the growing field of basic and applied biomedical research for over 20 years. The BTT Program provides students with the opportunity to gain the foundational background and technical skills needed to succeed in entry-level laboratory positions. BTT Program graduates have obtained jobs in a variety of academic research institutions and at biomedical, biotechnology, and pharmaceutical companies in the Greater Philadelphia region.

Applying to the BTT Program

Information sessions are held at the partnering community colleges each year. Admission to the BTT Program is based on the student’s academic record, letters of recommendation, personal statement, and an interview. Laboratory training for community college students begins each May at The Wistar Institute.

BTT in lab 2

Opening the Doors to New Opportunity

In this video, students in Wistar’s BTT and Fox BRT Programs discuss how the skills taught in Wistar’s labs prepare them for a rewarding career in biomedical sciences.

Watch the Video

Contact Us

For more information about the BTT Program at The Wistar Institute, contact: 

Kristy Shuda McGuire, Ph.D.
Dean, Biomedical Studies 
Associate Professor, Molecular & Cellular Oncogenesis Program, Ellen and Ronald Caplan Cancer Center
3601 Spruce Street
Philadelphia, PA  19104
215-898-3805
kshudamcguire@wistar.org

Community College of Philadelphia students interested in the BTT Program should contact:

Dominic M. Salerno, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Biology
Academic Coordinator, Biomedical Technician Training (BTT) Program
Community College of Philadelphia
215-972-6359
dsalerno@ccp.edu

or the Division of Math, Science, and Health Careers at 215-751-8430

Montgomery County Community College students interested in the BTT Program should contact:

Margaret Bryans, Ph.D.
Associate Professor and Coordinator of Biotechnology
Montgomery County Community College
215-619-7335
MBryans@mc3.edu

Marinela and Bill - BTT Program

"While I was doing crystallization, I saw crystal clear where my future stands.”

Marinela Kola
BTT Program Graduate 2018

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Acknowledgements

The Wistar Institute gratefully acknowledges generous support for the Biomedical Technician Training Program from: 

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Workforce Development System (CWDS) of the Department of Labor and Industry
The Anne M. and Philip H. Glatfelter, III Family Foundation
GlaxoSmithKline
Gray Charitable Trust
The Hassel Foundation
Independence Blue Cross Foundation
The Brook J. Lenfest Foundation 
National Cancer Institute (NCI) Continuing Umbrella of Research Experiences (CURE) Program
Office Depot
Pincus Family Foundation
The Scholler Foundation