UTA teams up to grow biotech workforce

BioWorks for North Texas will create workforce opportunities for underserved North Texans

Wednesday, Sep 28, 2022 • Neph Rivera : Contact

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Gabriela Wilson (left) and Jon Weidanz

The University of Texas at Arlington is playing a key role in training the future of the biotech industry in North Texas.

Through an $8.8 million grant awarded to Dallas College by the U.S. Economic Development Administration, UTA will work with Collin College, Dallas College and Tarrant County College to create a new regional career training pathway in biotechnology, biomanufacturing and bioinformatics.

The partnership will create BioWorks for North Texas, an introductory “boot camp” to train 800 participants from historically underserved North Texas communities for entry-level biotech employment. UTA will recruit and train 100 of those participants while working with employers to develop biotech training and education programs.

“We are excited to be part of this very important project that will enhance UTA’s high visibility in biotechnology and health informatics,” said Gabriela Wilson, professor of kinesiology, co-director of UTA’s Multi-Interprofessional Center for Health Informatics (MICHI) and leader of UTA’s BioWorks efforts. “Through this industry-led project and our collaborative efforts, we will contribute to addressing systemic barriers to academic and workforce access and success by building targeted biotechnology training and employment opportunities in a growing industry sector in North Texas.”

UTA will also leverage the resources of its Career Development Center, providing participants access to job and internship opportunities, organizing employer panels and hosting students on-site to learn about workforce culture and gain hands-on experience.

“This grant demonstrates both UTA’s commitment to growing the biotech sector here in North Texas and its collaborative spirit and desire to work with other institutions in our region,” said Jon Weidanz, associate vice president of research, professor of kinesiology and bioengineering, and director of MICHI’s biotechnology and systems biology division. “The funding will, in part, provide resources for UTA and MICHI to develop biotech training programs and train a technically competent workforce.”

Seven major North Texas health care employers, including UT Southwestern Medical Center, Children’s Health Medical Center and McKesson, have already committed to hiring 1,100 entry-level biotech workers, providing living wages along with health care, retirement and other benefits.