BioscienceLA recently announced the launch of its BioFutures Program with a $1 million grant from LA County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, to grow opportunities for underrepresented students in the life sciences industry.
“BioscienceLA’s mission is to place the LA life sciences ecosystem at the forefront of global innovation,” Ridley-Thomas said. “BioFutures is building relationships with local community colleges, growing employers, and established companies like Amgen, with the aim to create hundreds of opportunities over the coming years.”
BioFutures is a competitive program to connect students from underrepresented backgrounds with internships and career development programming.
“Our mission relies on our commitment to enabling diversity, amplifying science, and accelerating collaboration,” BioscienceLA CEO Dave Whelan said. “We strongly believe that diversity, equity, and inclusion must be reflected in the training, recruitment, and retention strategies of all stakeholders.”
“Eight LA community colleges currently offer training for internships and employment in bioscience, in addition to preparation in biology and chemistry for transfer degrees,” shares Wendie Johnson, Lab Director at Pasadena Bio Collaborative Incubator. “BioFutures is an impressive opportunity for nontraditional students who might not have the same access to getting their foot in the door and starting their career in life sciences.”
Interns will gain further insight into the LA life sciences ecosystem, via subsidized internships at local companies (including biotech, medtech, and digital health, in both technical and non-technical roles), industry mentorship and networking opportunities, and an alumni program.
“We moved to LA because, in recent years, it has become a hub for the future of healthcare,” said Jo Bhakdi, CEO of Quantgene, a biotech that relocated to Santa Monica from the Bay Area. “A large piece of this comes from the diverse and innovative minds that have gathered in this area. As an international company with a multicultural background, we recognize the importance of a program like BioFutures, not just in strengthening individual companies like ours, but the whole LA ecosystem at large.”
“Our program focuses on exposing students to local life science companies, while growing a more diverse recruitment pipeline from which companies can source talent,” Whelan explains. “Every internship funded is not just an investment in the student themselves, but also in the student’s school and in the hiring company.”
“This is just the start,” Ridley-Thomas said. “I would like to challenge companies and funders in LA to step up to support this program with me.”