Middlesex County College Develops New Biotechnology Degree

EDISON—Middlesex County College has developed a state-of-the-art Biotechnology Associate of Science Degree program that articulates seamlessly with the Rutgers University Biotechnology Bachelor of Science Degree.

Middlesex students who graduate with a grade point average of 3.0 or better in Biotechnology will be guaranteed admission into the highly competitive Rutgers University School of Environmental and Biological Sciences Biotechnology program.


The Middlesex program begins in the spring of 2010.

“Biotechnology is a relatively recent word used to describe the way we use living organisms to produce useful products,” said Trace Gerow, chairperson of the Biology Department.

“Ever since we learned to manipulate DNA, the field has exploded in importance. We can diagnose and treat diseases, and create new and better crops to feed people; biotechnologists are developing oil-eating bacteria to combat oil spills and other environmental problems. We can make vaccines, antibiotics, antibodies, organs for transplantation, improved crops and biodegradable plastics. Biotechnology is essential to medicine, medical diagnoses, drug production, genetic testing, gene therapy, agriculture, crop protection, genetic engineering, forensics and environmental protection. It’s a fascinating field that is tremendously important to our nation’s future.”

Biology Professor Uma Narayanan, program director, said that it is critical for the College to take the lead in this field because of the need for pharmaceutical companies in the central New Jersey area to hire highly qualified employees.

“New Jersey is a global leader in biotechnology and is home to one of the greatest concentrations of biotechnology industries in the world,” she said. “Therefore, it is important for New Jersey to continually develop a talented biotech workforce.”

There are numerous careers paths available for graduates in research, manufacturing, business, clinical development, quality control, regulatory affairs and sales and marketing.

“We’ve seen tremendous growth in this field and it is only going to increase,” Gerow said.

Karen Hays, vice president for academic and student affairs at Middlesex, lauded the Biology Department.

“This agreement is a great model and example of how two-year community colleges and four-year universities can work together,” she said. “It enables Associate Degree graduates to pursue advanced degrees without losing time or credits because all credits will transfer.”

The articulation process was funded by a grant from BIO-1, a consortium of industry, workforce investment boards, colleges and universities, research institutions, K-12 schools and government and nonprofit organizations. BIO-1 had received a $5 million grant from the United States Department of Labor to transform the central New Jersey area into a world-class biosciences talent development system.

Funding for the new biotechnology equipment came from the federal government through a Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical grant.

“Middlesex County College is in the process of establishing a world-class biotechnology teaching laboratory,” said Narayanan. “Our biotechnology students, as a result of this articulation agreement, will be able to continue their studies at the cutting-edge Rutgers University teaching and research laboratories.”

Middlesex County College Develops New Biotechnology Degree
Professor Uma Narayanan (right) with student Julia Kim (East Brunswick), working on the protein purification system.

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