HCC approved to offer biotechnology programs

May 01, 2007

Hagerstown Community College has been approved by the Maryland Higher Education Commission to offer certificate and degree programs in biotechnology, beginning this fall.

"We're doing this to respond to the increased demand for biotech workers as the biotechnology expansion saturates Montgomery and Frederick counties and reaches Washington County," said HCC President Guy Altieri. "HCC will help grow the area's biotech work force and provide assistance for start-up businesses, which will bring more high-skill, high-wage jobs to the county."

According to local biotechnology employers, the projected growth for the biotech work force in Western Maryland is at least 50 percent.

Technicians working in the biotechnology field typically perform tasks related to medical and pharmaceutical research, biomanufacturing with emphasis on current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP), quality control, forensics and many other types of research and product development.


The HCC program has been designed for technicians-in-training who plan to enter the biotechnology industry directly after completing their certificate or associate degree and/or to proceed to four-year colleges and universities.

Those who choose to transfer their HCC biotechnology degrees can earn a baccalaureate degree in a related discipline such as biochemistry, molecular biology, genomics, proteonomics, forensics, or biotechnology.

"Many of these students will go on to medical or graduate schools. It is very exciting that HCC has now added this program with the cornerstone courses where this process can begin for students right out of the local high schools or adult workers looking for a change of direction," said Judith Peisen, chair of the Mathematics and Science Division.

HCC's biotechnology classes will be taught by faculty with academic and research credentials in the biotech industry.

Beginning with the spring 2008 semester, students will have the advantage of learning in new, fully-equipped laboratories housed in the Career Programs Building, which is undergoing a major renovation. HCC is working with local public high schools to develop appropriate curricula that will prepare students to enter this program.

HCC is also building an addition to its Technical Innovation Center to house 11 private wet laboratories and one common laboratory.

These labs, scheduled for completion in early 2008, will be used to assist start-up biotech and life science firms. HCC students in the biotechnology curriculum will have opportunities to work as interns in these labs.

To learn more about the biotechnology program at HCC, contact Peisen at 301-790-2800, ext. 248, or

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