UNH Receives Federal Grant to Lead Biotech Workforce Development Initiative

Thursday, September 3, 2020

DURHAM, N.H.—The University of New Hampshire has received a five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health to help build an effective workforce for New Hampshire’s expanding regenerative medicine and biotechnology industries.

The project, called NH CREATES the Future: the NH Collaborative for Regenerative Medicine Education and Training for Engineers and Scientists of the Future (NH CREATES), will engage middle and high school teachers and students in Manchester, Nashua, Portsmouth, Dover and Barrington as well as Lawrence, Mass., to develop a pipeline to support the state’s biotechnology workforce needs. The five-year $1.2 million grant, funded by a National Institutes of Health Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA), will bring enhanced STEM education to up to 1,400 students each year from the state’s most ethnically diverse school districts as well as the Lawrence (Mass.) Family Development Charter School, which is 100% Latinx.

“NH CREATES is a training mechanism to supply the regenerative medicine and biotechnology industry with an educated workforce pipeline so that, in turn, this burgeoning industry can fulfill its potential to cure disease,” said Carmela Amato-Wierda, associate professor of materials science and principal investigator on the grant. “We want to educate middle and high school students about regenerative medicine and instill excitement about how we need their future contributions to propel this field forward in the years to come.”

According to Amato-Wierda, 78% of the state’s biotechnology industry reports a shortage of skilled workers, and 25% of the current biotechnology workforce is over the age of 55.

“New Hampshire is a leader in technology and innovation because we know how important it is to invest in STEM learning from an early age. This grant is a testament to the diligence of our higher education institutions to make good on that effort and build out a 21st century workforce,” said the New Hampshire congressional delegation. “We are excited to see UNH receive this award and are thrilled for students and their educators in Manchester, Nashua, Portsmouth, Dover and Barrington who will have the opportunity to participate in this program. We will continue to advocate for federal funding that boosts our state profile in technological discovery and empowers the next generation of New Hampshire scientists and engineers.”

NH CREATES will facilitate collaboration among middle and high schools, higher education and the region’s biotechnology industry—including the Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute (ARMI), the Manchester-based national hub for the regenerative medicine and biotechnology industry to enhance STEM learning and career pathways with several initiatives that include the following:

  • A two-week summer institute will provide teacher training to middle and high school teachers to develop and deliver formal curriculum about core biomedical concepts relevant to regenerative medicine and biotechnology.
  • NH CREATES will build on UNH Tech Camp, a set of youth summer programs designed to increase STEM literacy. The new grant will provide scholarships for 40 under-represented, rural or economically disadvantaged youth each year.
  • Creation of a biotechnology STEM ecosystem in which industry, higher education and K-12 partners work collaboratively to assist students as they work their way from middle school to high school to college to biotechnology careers.

NH CREATES will engage faculty and staff from higher education institutions across the state to advise teachers participating in the summer institute. Kelley Thomas, the Hubbard Professor of Genomics and director of UNH’s Hubbard Center for Genome Studies, is co-principal investigator.

The University of New Hampshire inspires innovation and transforms lives in our state, nation and world. More than 16,000 students from all 50 states and 71 countries engage with an award-winning faculty in top-ranked programs in business, engineering, law, health and human services, liberal arts and the sciences across more than 200 programs of study. As one of the nation’s highest-performing research universities, UNH partners with NASA, NOAA, NSF and NIH, and receives more than $110 million in competitive external funding every year to further explore and define the frontiers of land, sea and space.