UCSF Partnership Offers Opportunities in Biosciences

San Francisco residents are finding high-quality jobs and successfully navigating bioscience careers with the help of an innovative training program. The On-Ramp to Biotech training program, developed by UCSF community partner SFWorks, prepares low-income adults with limited scientific background for careers in bioscience. The coordinated effort involves UCSF, City College of San Francisco (CCSF), Urban University and SFWorks, a nonprofit workforce development organization that assists both employers and individuals. The On-Ramp program can lead to careers in the biotechnology sector, says Lisa Gray, coordinator of UCSF's Community Partnership Program, which provides workforce and economic opportunities for residents of the neighborhoods near the UCSF Mission Bay campus. A significant number of program graduates are currently working (90 percent of them in industry-related jobs) earning $11 to $17 per hour. Some 74 percent of program graduates have opted to continue their educational or vocational bioscience training - primarily in CCSF's nationally-recognized Biotech Certificate Program. "Students are often the first in their family to enter post-secondary education," Gray notes. "These accomplishments are usually the result of participants successfully hurdling institutional and personal barriers." Since the creation of On-Ramp to Biotech two and a half years ago, 24 program participants have interned and/or been hired to work in UCSF labs, including those in pharmaceutical chemistry, orthopedic surgery and the Comprehensive Cancer Center, Gray says. Debradenise "Dee Dee" Brooks, an African-American mother of two who lives in Visitacion Valley, is among the program's beneficiaries. At the time of her enrollment in the biotech training program, she was unemployed and on public assistance. After completing the program and an eight-week internship at UCSF, Brooks began a temporary position as a clinical study coordinator and recruiter for Biometrix Inc. She was recently hired as a clinical research coordinator and analyst in UCSF Medical Center's neurology department. "The On-Ramp program allowed me to stay in an arena I care about -- health care," she said. Brooks is now helping the SFWorks and the UCSF Community Partnerships Program conduct outreach to other residents of Visitacion Valley. She is also working to complete the clinical trials and design management certificate program, which she plans to complete in next spring at San Francisco State University. The Community Partnerships program is currently recruiting clinical and other UCSF research labs to participate in the program and assist in increasing the number of underrepresented minorities in the field of bioscience. Interns become employees of UCSF for the eight-week internship. SFWorks maintains close contact with interns and labs to ensure that participants can manage the rigorous course work while being employed by the University. The program is also looking for job opportunities for graduates. Principal investigators or lab managers who want to learn more about the program, may contact Gray, community partnerships coordinator, by email, or 415/514-2651.

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