The NH Collaborative Learning through Industry Internships and Academic Mentorship in Biotech for Students Upscaling the Workforce (NH CLIMBS UP), funded by a NH BioMade seed grant, supported workforce development in biomanufacturing. The week-long course provided cell culture skills training through integrated interactions with industry representatives, career and education counselors, and mentors. NH CLIMBS UP cross-trained engineers to understand cell culture and needs of living cells and tissues, a skills gap identified by local industry.


Fifteen participants studied cell passaging, viability assays, cell staining, imaging and wound assay analysis, proper pipetting, and DNA and protein techniques. Evaluations demonstrated a remarkable gain in knowledge by participants. Interest from applicants, industry, and academia indicates the need for wider audiences to access continuing professional development in this topic area. The PIs have plans to repeat the course in 2024.


CLIMBS UP student researchers

In January 2023, Dr. Kristen Johnson and Dr. Mary Stewart  hosted NH CLIMBS UP at the Biotechnology Innovation Center at University of New Hampshire Manchester to address workforce development needs in biomanufacturing. Engineering and advanced manufacturing students obtained hands-on skills in cell culture and the needs of living cells. Fifteen students were selected from over thirty applicants. CLIMBS UP student examines sample under a microscopeThe short one-week course piloted a non-credit professional development format. Integration of educational opportunities, coaching, and industry speakers from Eppendorf, Nexcelom, Fisher Scientific, and NovoNordisk made the course unique. UNH graduates offered career guidance support to participants. In addition to the lab training and mentorship, participants toured the Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute (ARMI) labs and received resume and networking guidance from UNH Career and Professional Services.

As one respondent to the evaluation survey said:

This was a strong intro to cell culture and did a good job of expanding my knowledge of biology. [The instructors] were knowledgeable and approachable instructors. They were able to make me more comfortable with something I had no prior experience with in an incredibly short time. One thing I'd like to see in future expansions is the use of bioreactors, because they seem very important to the industry, and I'm interested in learning the basics of operating one.

The New Hampshire Center for Multiscale Modeling and Manufacturing of Biomaterials (NH BioMade) is an NSF EPSCoR Research Infrastructure Improvement Track-1 project (#1757371).

Written by: Kristen Johnson & Mary Stewart, UNH-M; Jennifer Baker, NH EPSCoR
Photos: HM Collins Photography