Students in a lab
University News | 11/21/2022

MCPHS Partners with MassBio to Develop the Life Sciences Workforce

Students in a lab

The collaboration will unlock opportunities for thousands of people in the region from many different backgrounds.

November 21, 2022 — Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS) is partnering with Massachusetts Biotechnology Council (MassBio) to tackle a major challenge: life sciences companies in the region are rapidly adding jobs, and they cannot find qualified candidates to fill them.1 Positions are going unfilled as these companies continue to expand. Employee retention is also an issue.

MCPHS has the perfect blend of programs, knowledge, and experience to help. The University will collaborate with MassBio, a nonprofit dedicated to advancing the state’s leadership in the life sciences, to shape an ambitious workforce development initiative that will involve multiple organizations, unlocking opportunities for thousands of people from many different backgrounds while supporting the regional economy.

“We are the ideal higher education partner for this exciting initiative, given our track record of successfully preparing students for careers in the life sciences and partnering with companies to create custom programs that meet their needs,” said Richard J. Lessard, President of MCPHS. “We pride ourselves on being nimble and adapting our offerings to match needs and opportunities in the health and life sciences.”

MCPHS is one of just three institutions of higher learning chosen by MassBio to bring the initiative to life. UMass Boston and Worcester Polytechnic Institute were also selected. MCPHS offers undergraduate, graduate, and professional education, serving individuals preparing to begin a career as well as seasoned professionals looking to advance. Executives at life sciences companies in the region have indicated that they need help on all of these fronts.

Through the new workforce development initiative, MassBio is converting part of a building in Dorchester formerly owned by the Boston Globe into a training center for life sciences. Based in an underserved community, the center—which is expected to open by Q3 of 2023—will provide an on-ramp to well-paid, entry-level jobs in biomanufacturing and other areas.

MCPHS will explore creating academic pathways for the trainees, potentially by offering certificates that could be applied toward undergraduate degrees. University faculty members have experience teaching on a number of topics of interest to the center, including foundations of health science, professional skills in the life sciences, and more.

A series of conversations are planned with representatives from biotech, biopharma, and biomanufacturing companies in the region to discuss the knowledge, skills, and capabilities that employees need to thrive in roles at their organizations. These discussions will influence the offerings of the workforce development center in Dorchester.

They will also spur MCPHS and other collaborators to design training and programs that can be provided at other locations and online. For example, MCPHS has cutting-edge laboratory facilities with state-of-the art equipment, including some acquired recently through a grant from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center. Students can learn to operate the equipment that life sciences companies use and practice working in a lab setting while building research skills.

A common concern among life sciences executives is also keeping existing employees engaged and providing opportunities for professional growth and development. MCPHS is uniquely positioned to help, having offered industry fellowship programs for years.

“MCPHS will help the region to maintain its position as a life sciences leader by training a workforce of the future while expanding opportunities for people at every stage of their career,” said Caroline Zeind, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost of MCPHS.

Read the press release from MassBio for more information about the collaboration.


1 Massachusetts Biotechnology Education Foundation. 2022 Massachusetts Life Sciences Employment Outlook. June 1, 2022.