BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The University at Buffalo introduced today
iSciWNY, a comprehensive life-sciences workforce development
program dedicated to preparing all Western New Yorkers, not just
scientists, for new positions in Buffalo Niagara's growing life
UB's iSciWNY will use workshops, training programs, an
interactive Web site and a Career Pathways kit to demystify the
life sciences industry for Western New Yorkers and prepare them for
employment in this sector, whether they're high school students
looking for their first job or established professionals looking
for a new challenge.
In announcing the new program, UB Provost and Executive Vice
President for Academic Affairs Satish K. Tripathi, PhD, said the
region already has achieved significant growth in the life sciences
and is poised for additional expansion.
"In 2006, the University at Buffalo opened the New York State
Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences
translational research facility here in downtown Buffalo to
jumpstart Buffalo's emerging life sciences economy," noted
Tripathi. "Today, Western New York is home to more than 120 life
sciences companies. This sector is becoming more and more vibrant,
as UB and our partner institutions leverage UB research and faculty
resources to spin off new companies, help existing firms grow and
attract new companies to the region.
"As the industry grows, so do the jobs," he continued. "UB's
iSciWNY is the public's pathway to better preparation for
Supported by generous donations from the Bank of America and
Life Technologies Foundation, in combination with grants from the
New York State Department of Labor, iSciWNY is available to
residents of the counties of Erie, Niagara, Cattaraugus and
Chautauqua through the Buffalo and Erie County Workforce Investment
Board Inc. and to the counties of Genesee, Livingston, Orleans and
Wyoming through the Genesee County Economic Development Center.
"With the launch of iSciWNY, the University at Buffalo
has moved Western New York one step closer to becoming a dominant
player in the life sciences industry," said Kevin Murphy, Bank of
America market president, Buffalo. "We are proud of our support for
the program, which dates back to 2007, and our ongoing efforts to
encourage workforce development."
The program has two emphases: education and awareness to inform
people about what opportunities are available in life sciences, and
training to help prepare people for those opportunities.
iSciWNY is available at no charge to Western New York
organizations and individuals.
According to Marnie LaVigne, PhD, director of business
development in UB's Center of Excellence and co-developer of
iSciWNY, many Western New Yorkers are unaware of the
extraordinary diversity of the region's life sciences industry, an
industry that includes companies that develop and test powerful new
drugs, create innovative medical devices and develop new
computational tools needed to advance new research.
"The iSciWNY slogan, 'Stay here, go far' means that
thanks to our growing life sciences industry, Western New Yorkers
can stay here and find successful careers in many more fields than
the typical laboratory position pictured by most people," LaVigne
said. "It is incredibly rewarding to be involved in a career with
great opportunities at all levels -- in technical and non-technical
jobs that offer professional advancement -- while helping people
live better, healthier lives because of innovative life science
products and services."
Those opportunities are already here and are growing in number,
according to Thomas P. Stewart, PhD, president and chief clinical
officer at Gaymar Industries Inc., an international medical
products manufacturing and engineering company in Orchard Park.
Gaymar expects to see moderate growth in employment opportunities
over the next two years, with more significant growth taking off
"We have openings right now," said Stewart, "but sometimes we
have difficulty filling them because people may not have the right
set of skills. That's fixable through iSciWNY. For example,
in some of our technician, engineering, manufacturing and assembly
positions, it would be advantageous if candidates had some
regulatory training, like the six-week regulatory program available
through iSciWNY. It gives them a leg up on the
A key feature of iSciWNY is its focus on changing public
perceptions about life sciences, said Casey DeBruyn, training
development supervisor at Grand Island's Life Technologies, a
subsidiary of the Fortune 500 global biotech company Invitrogen
"When you mention life sciences, people automatically think of
someone wearing safety glasses and a lab coat and possibly having
earned a PhD," added DeBruyn, who is also an advisor and trained
instructor for iSciWNY and related programs. "Scientists are
part of the industry, of course, but so are thousands of other
positions in business development, human resources, marketing, law,
manufacturing and many others. Here at Life Technologies, we've had
people with high school diplomas, associate's and bachelor's
degrees working for 30 years in good, sustainable careers.
"iSciWNY is valuable because it provides resources both
to students and adults, whether they're considering a career change
or they've been displaced from a job," he added. "It enables
workers to start building the fundamental skill sets they will need
to be competitive in the market."
iSciWNY's emphasis on the community distinguishes it from
other worker training programs, noted Sherryl Weems, EdD,
co-developer of iSciWNY and director of UB's Educational
Opportunity Center, which administers many of the iSciWNY
"Community organizations like Hispanics United are thrilled that
they can show young people how they can stay in Buffalo and achieve
something important," said Weems. "And unlike a lot of workforce
programs out there, this one doesn't see the pipeline as starting
with the college student or graduate. iSciWNY starts in the
community, and it targets everybody, from high school students to
adults who are currently employed or in the market for a new
iSciWNY, Weems noted, was tailor-made to this region with
major input by the Western New York life sciences companies and
institutions that are hiring, along with educators, career
counselors and others vital to spreading the message.
iSciWNY educates, raises awareness and trains people
• A rich, interactive Web site at http://www.isciwny.com that helps
individuals discover what life sciences can offer them
• An informative, eight-minute video available at http://www.isciwny.com featuring
stories from Western New Yorkers currently employed in the life
• 2,500 Career Ladder Kits, now being distributed to each
middle and high school in the eight-county Western New York region,
as well as to job training centers and community organizations
• Two-hour introductory "train the trainer" workshops
presented by project personnel and partner organizations so that
iSciWNY "ambassadors" can then train others in using the
• Two-hour introductory workshops starting in UB's
Educational Opportunity Center and expanding into the community,
where trained iSciWNY ambassadors will introduce the program
to students, career changers, displaced workers and others who want
to better understand and access opportunities in life sciences
• Five-week work-readiness certificate programs in life
sciences, offered by UB's Educational Opportunity Center
So far, more than 100 individuals have completed the two-hour
training programs. The five-week work-readiness certificate program
debuts this fall.
According to its developers in UB's Center of Excellence and the
Educational Opportunity Center, iSciWNY is unique nationally
because of the way it addresses workforce development needs.
"iSciWNY creates a pipeline approach," explained LaVigne,
"it links all the organizations that need to be involved to develop
a skilled workforce -- whether through advising, educating,
training or employment -- with the community at large."
Other regions statewide and across the U.S. have expressed
interest in using iSciWNY as a model, LaVigne noted.
For more information, visit http://www.isciwny.com.
The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public
university, a flagship institution in the State University of New
York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's
more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through
more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree
programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of
the Association of American Universities.