How the BioTechnical Institute of Maryland prepares Baltimore residents to work at local labs - Technical.ly Baltimore

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Oct. 12, 2018 12:08 pm

How the BioTechnical Institute of Maryland prepares Baltimore residents to work at local labs

BTI marked the 20th anniversary of its program providing training and job connections this week. Alums are employed across the area's biotech companies.

Candice King talks about her journey to Baltimore's biotech industry.

(Photo by Blue-Eyed Girl Photography/Alison Wilson)

Candice King found a job with a local biotech company through a Baltimore workforce training program, but it wasn’t only about getting the skills to work in a lab.

“Putting on that lab jacket placed a sense of accomplishment inside of me that I was missing for quite some time,” said King. She’s a 2013 graduate of the BioTechnical Institute of Maryland (BTI), which celebrated its 20th anniversary on Wednesday evening at the B&O Railroad Museum.

King learned about BTI 5 years ago and, after she made it through three rounds of testing and an interview, was admitted to program. At the time, she had a three year old son – Joshua – and was homeless, but determined. “I wanted to graduate with a greater than 3.5 GPA, get an internship at Johns Hopkins and get a job and be able to have a car and place to live,” King said

She more than exceeded her goals. King is now enrolled in Baltimore City Community College pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in biotechnology. She graduated BTI with a 4.0 GPA and completed her JHU Internship before moving on to a job at Cognate BioServices, Inc.

Based in Southwest Baltimore, BTI is a nonprofit organization working to fill the growing need for specialty, scientific training in the workforce with bright, ambitious Baltimore residents. The Institute prepares graduates for the expanding biotechnology industry through classroom instruction, hands-on training and on-the-job experience, then helps to place them in laboratory associate positions upon graduation.

The students are placed in Baltimore biotech companies like BD Diagnostics, PathSensors, and Microbac. Also among the companies is WindMIL Therapeutics, a Baltimore-based cancer immunotherapy startup cofounded by JHU’s Kimberly Noonan that hired BTI graduate Irvin Griffith.

“He is more a part of the family now than an employee, and is a key part of our team working to process hundreds of human-cell samples with skills he learned in BTI’s program,” Noonan said of Griffith.

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University of Baltimore President Kurt Schmoke, BTI Executive Director Kathleen Weiss and BTI Board President JC Weiss.

University of Baltimore President Kurt Schmoke, BTI Executive Director Kathleen Weiss and BTI Board President JC Weiss. (Photo by Blue-Eyed Girl Photography/Alison Wilson)

The anniversary event brought together biotech industry partners, graduates, and community leaders including Secretary of Commerce Mike Gill and Kurt Schmoke, the former mayor of Baltimore and current president of the University of Baltimore.

“Traditionally, breaking into the biotech industry requires highly specialized degrees, but BTI makes it accessible, and these skills are a win-win for both employers and community members alike”, said Schmoke.

The evening celebrated the 425 BTI graduates, including members of the most recent class.

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