Bioversity Executive Director poses with the first cohort of students at the opening celebration.
University News | 1/5/2024

MCPHS and Bioversity Celebrate the Opening of a New Workforce Training Center

By Dana Barbuto

Bioversity Executive Director Zach Stanley poses with the first cohort of students at the opening celebration on January 4 at Southline Boston. PHOTO: John Wilcox Photography

Bioversity Executive Director poses with the first cohort of students at the opening celebration.
Bioversity Executive Director Zach Stanley poses with the first cohort of students at the opening celebration on January 4 at Southline Boston. PHOTO: John Wilcox Photography

Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences is helping to train a new crop of life sciences workers.

The Bioversity workforce training and education center at Southline Boston is officially open.

Following a training curriculum developed by Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS) in collaboration with industry employers, classes in the newly renovated 4,000-square foot lab and classroom space begin Monday, Jan., 8.

On Thursday, key leaders from MCPHS joined members from Bioversity, a nonprofit launched by MassBio, representatives from the offices of Boston Mayor Michelle Wu and Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey, and executives from the life sciences industry to celebrate the grand opening of the new facility that has been in development for more than a year. MCPHS became Bioversity's first educational partner in November 2022.

The project has been a collaborative effort, said Bioversity Executive Director Zach Stanley in his remarks to about 150 people gathered in the atrium at Southline Boston, the old Boston Globe building on Morrissey Boulevard in Dorchester. "It took a lot of work to get here," he said.

Calling MCPHS a "true partner," Stanley thanked President Richard J. Lessard for the University's support and Carol Stuckey, Dean of the School of Professional Studies, for being Bioversity's "day-to-day compadre."

MCPHS faculty and staff at the Bioversity opening.
Representing MCPHS at the Bioversity opening celebration were, from left, Caroline Zeind, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost, President Richard J. Lessard, Carol Stuckey, Dean of the School of Professional Studies, Ronny Priefer, Associate Dean of Graduate Studies in the School of Pharmacy and Charles Breckling, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer. PHOTO: John Wilcox Photography

"If you don't know who they are or only know them because they graduate a lot of pharmacists, you'll get to know them better," Stanley said. "They're doing some amazing things on their campuses."

Caroline Zeind, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost, and Ronny Priefer, Associate Dean of Graduate Studies in the School of Pharmacy, also attended the celebration.

Bioversity students will participate in an eight-week certificate training program designed to prepare them for entry-level scientific and operational roles in local life sciences labs and companies. The program's goal is to be a gateway for economic stability for participants and to provide companies with qualified candidates to fill positions in a rapidly expanding industry. "We will be with them every step of the way," Stanley said.

Participants in the first group range in age from 18 to 48 and identify as Black or Hispanic, and 58 percent are women, 94 percent hold only a high school degree or some college, 26 percent are unemployed, and 52 percent are employed part-time. "One hundred percent of our first cohort is diverse," Stanley said. "We are making a dedicated effort to include people who have traditionally been left out of the life sciences industry."

University leaders from the School of Pharmacy, School of Healthcare Business and Technology, and School of Professional Studies designed the curriculum for the first cohort of trainees. Some faculty members and graduate students will be teaching in the Bioversity program.

On Thursday, Isaiah Lawton was all smiles walking into the new lab and classroom. A recent graduate from Dorchester's Codman Academy Charter School, Lawton, 18, is one of the 20 members from the inaugural cohort. "This is unbelievable," Lawton said. "It's exciting that we are the first to use this space."

Lawton said he learned about Bioversity via social media and attended the open house with his mother. A science-minded student who "loved to dissect things in biology," Lawton later applied to Bioversity and was accepted. “I like mixing potions, too,” he said.

The second cohort is scheduled to start on March 11. Bioversity received more than 150 applicants to join this first cohort. It plans to graduate 100 people this year and provide opportunities for them to pursue well-paid, entry-level jobs in the life sciences industry.

Lawton's classmate, Clarissa Ramirez, 30, was full of enthusiasm, too. Classes begin Monday, and she's got first-day-of-school excitement. "My book bag is all set with pens, pencils, and highlighters. I can't wait to get started."

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