Dr. Sangya S. Varma, Founding Director, 2017-present
The Biofabrication and Biomanufacturing Workforce Development (WFD) program was founded in 2017 with the mission to bridge the wide gap between both academic and industrial researchers and the general public, by broadening access to disruptive biofabrication technologies. Proof-of-concept projects have demonstrated the viability of large-scale manufacturing and commercialization of engineered tissues and tissue-related technologies.
Our Certificate in Biofabrication and Biomanufacturing Program is focused on skills training for the nascent biofabrication industry sector. The training is in biomaterials, additive manufacturing - 3D bioprinting, tissue culture, cell culture, cell expansion, skin models, best practices in clean room practices, as well as alternative biomanufacturing techniques such as airbrushing, and porous scaffold making.
Biofab WFD serves as an incubator for design thinking, ideation, problem solving, innovation, and high impact activities. The cutting-edge training is aimed to create a new pipeline of highly skilled workers for the growing biomanufacturing industry.
As Co-PI of the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (LWD) sponsored Life Sciences Talent Development Center (LSTDC), I have assumed the goals of the state to strive for 65 by 25: Many Paths, One Future. Our training programs are leading the charge in new technology education at all levels.
Additionally, as a founding member of Department of Defense sponsored Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute (ARMI), I co-lead its Mid-Atlantic Biofabrication Workforce Incubator. Our model is advised by academic-industry partnerships to develop curricula, to train-the-trainers of future generations of skilled personnel, and to bring overall awareness about the advances in engineered tissues, regenerative medicine, and related technologies.
The BioFab WFD curriculum is developed along a competency-based model and provides students an avenue of study and upskilling that is presently unavailable through existing courses/programs of study at Rutgers University as well as elsewhere in the Mid-Atlantic region. The training is intended as enhancement and not as a competition to existing disciplines. It has the potential to establish industry standards and can be the model for a national deployment.
The training program, has a career-connections approach to help develop skills for industry. It will prepare students with the background to pursue work in biofabrication-related positions in private industry, federal, state and local government, and the nonprofit sectors. It will also provide added credentials for those seeking admission to higher education programs such as dental school, veterinary school, physical therapy, MD/PhD programs, and other translational studies.
This undertaking would not be possible without key NJCBM faculty, educators, trainers, staff, students, sponsors, and patrons. I am proud of our achievements thus far. We have an opportunity and an obligation to democratize Biofabrication education, and I encourage everyone to engage with us to push forward our mission. Breakthroughs for on-demand and large-scale Biomanufacturing of functional tissues and organs can come from anywhere!
Dr. Sangya S. Varma, M.Sc., Ph.D.
Founding Director, 2017-present
Biofabrication and Biomanufacturing Workforce Development,
New Jersey Center for Biomaterials at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey