Training Program for High-Demand Biotechnology Roles Growing Drug Manufacturing in St. Louis

     By Kathleen Berger, Executive Director for Science and Technology

    Thermo Fisher Scientific employee Jeane Mitchell-Carr is getting an edge in St. Louis’ growing biotechnology industry by completing a five-day course at St. Louis Community College. The class is about bioreactors, where a biologic reaction is carried out. Thermo Fischer Scientific uses bioreactors for drug development and production.

    “It was pretty awesome because we got a chance to really put our hands on bioreactors, learning that process,” said Mitchell-Carr. “I’ve seen it executed in a very large-scale production environment. To be able to do this is pretty exciting. I enjoyed it tremendously.”

    The $32 billion life sciences giant Thermo Fisher Scientific helped develop curriculums for several biotechnology subjects. It’s part of a biotechnology workforce development partnership with St. Louis Community College and St. Louis innovation hub BioSTL. The partnership is an opportunity to develop local talent for Thermo Fisher in St. Louis and for biotechnology companies in the region. BioSTL has a leading role through Justin Raymundo, Director of Regional Workforce Strategy for BioSTL.

    “Our role is to identify gaps and to have programs and partnerships that lead to strengthening our region’s biotech talent to make sure that we’re constantly positioned as one of the global leaders in biotechnology,” said Raymundo.

    Raymundo helped build the partnership with Thermo Fisher to support the growth of a technically trained workforce.

    “Thermo Fisher Scientific is a world leading life science company,” he said. “They produce and manufacture biologic drug substances that treat a variety of chronic health conditions including cancers and other life-threatening diseases, such as COVID-19.”

    The new biotechnology certification “crash” courses cover a variety of subjects to fuel local talent. Other St. Louis area companies benefit as well.

    “Because of great corporate citizen Thermo Fisher Scientific, and they’re proactive identification of this opportunity, their willingness to collaborate to create a truly regional program, it’s not just Thermo Fisher and that’s it,” Raymundo explained. “My real job is just to make connections with additional corporate partners, employers that are facing workforce needs and using this program as a way to fill and meet those needs.”

    There are plans to grow the program by providing opportunities to more people.

    “Looking into the fall of this year, really opening it up to more community organizations and partners,” said Raymundo.