UMass Dartmouth recently received a $750,000 grant from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center to connect students in one of the University's most diverse science programs, Medical Laboratory Science (MLS), to resources that will further their careers in the life sciences. The grant was part of the Baker-Polito Administration and the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC) announcement of 39 grants totaling more than $14.6 million.
“Stepping Stones: Achieving Greater Diversity in Life Sciences through Laboratory Science” focuses on UMass Dartmouth and the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center’s shared commitment to increase diversity in the life sciences. Funding will be used to add advanced technologies to the University’s laboratory spaces, including microbiology testing stations, blood testing equipment, and cell manipulation hardware. Students in the program will utilize these new pieces of equipment and methodologies that are the same as employers use in Massachusetts’s burgeoning life sciences sector.
“By making investments in STEM workforce and educational opportunities, we can sustain and strengthen Massachusetts’ leadership in the life sciences and other STEM industries,” said Governor Charlie Baker in a press release. “We are grateful to partners across the Commonwealth for working with our administration to create more career pathways for students in these growing fields.”
“UMass Dartmouth is committed to growing our learning and research opportunities in the life sciences,” said Chancellor Mark A. Fuller. “This generous grant from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center will help our diverse student body enter the workforce prepared to continue the Commonwealth’s worldwide leadership in these crucial industries.”
“Growing the life sciences is a critical focus of our university and region,” said Ramprasad Balasubramanian, vice chancellor for research and innovation at UMass Dartmouth. "With a highly-skilled workforce and lab space a fraction of the cost of Boston area facilities, the SouthCoast is only expected to grow its impact in the life sciences industry."
With a 100% employment rate and a 100% pass rate on MLS professional certification, UMass Dartmouth's MLS program is ranked as one of the top programs in the country. While traditionally employed in health care facilities, students in the MLS program increasing focus on careers in life science.
“The College of Nursing & Health Sciences is very excited and appreciative of this grant from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center,” said Dean of the College of Nursing & Health Sciences Kimberly Christopher. “The funding provides the opportunity to update student learning laboratory facilities and expand our capacity to address current and future medical laboratory and life sciences workforce needs.”
Students in the MLS program analyze blood, body fluids, cells, tissues, and other specimens to determine diseases' causes and their appropriate treatments. The skills acquired by students are highly translatable to life sciences labs. The UMassD program, one of the largest in the nation, is accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences, which makes students eligible for national certification from the American Society for Clinical Pathology.
"We are incredibly grateful to Mass Life Sciences Center for their support of Stepping Stones," said Professor Frank Scarano, chair of the Medical Laboratory Science department. "The demand for skilled laboratory scientists in both the life sciences and health sciences continues to grow, and our highly-motivated, hard-working, diverse students need to learn on the same equipment used in modern labs."