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BCCC Life Sciences Institute Officially Opens in University of Maryland BioPark

The Life Sciences Institute of the Baltimore City Community College (BCCC) officially opened in the University of Maryland BioPark with a ceremony Nov. 16, highlighted by passionate remarks from Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md.

"Housing the Life Sciences Institute at the UM BioPark is about creating jobs and new opportunity for students who go here and residents who live here," said Mikulski. BCCC officials say she was instrumental in helping secure more than $1.4 million in federal funding for the Institute located in BioPark Building Two.

The Institute was formally opened at the standing-room-only event hosted by Kathleen Kennedy Norris, PhD, biotechnology coordinator for BCCC, and director of the Institute. The event attracted many Baltimore City and state political officials and business leaders.

Mikulski, a former social worker and instructor at BCCC, stated she "was no stranger to Baltimore's west side", the BCCC, and the University of Maryland where she was a student at the School of Social Work.

She was emphatic about the decision by the University of Maryland, Baltimore president,David J. Ramsay, DM, DPhil, to locate the BioPark west of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and the decision by the BCCC to locate the Institute in the BioPark.

State Sen. Verna Jones, MPA, also spoke at the opening ceremony. "We know all of the statistics that Baltimore City has a disproportionately high unemployment rate," she said. "We know that there are a lot of individuals who are impoverished that do not have access to the skills, training, and the jobs. Today, we can say that we are not just one step, but we are one mile ahead of the game to make sure that our people are trained.

The Institute is part of a program to encourage students from the nearby Vivien T. Thomas Medical Arts Academy to attend the BCCC Institute for two years and then transfer to the University of Maryland School of Medicine or School of Nursing to complete their four-year degree.

The goal is to increase the number of biotechnology specialists for Maryland's rapidly growing bioscience industry. Norris said 18 students already have been recommended to interview with Biomere LLC for potential employment.

Following the official ceremony, Mikulski and a group of BCCC leaders participated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the second-floor entrance to the Institute and afterwards Mikulski spent time talking with BCCC students.

The 10-acre BioPark on the west side of the University of Maryland campus will boast 1.8 million square feet of lab and office space in 12 buildings plus garage parking and landscaped parks at final build-out. Currently, the BioPark has 360,000 square feet in two-multitenant buildings and one 631-space parking garage. Development of a third multitenant building is under way. Construction of the State of Maryland's new Forensic Medical Center will be completed in 2010.

Ed Fishel, Office of External Affairs
University of Maryland, Baltimore