UCSD Extension and San Diego Biotechnology Network Partner To Engage, Educate, and Empower Local Scientists

SAN DIEGO, Jan. 9, 2015 /PRNewswire-iReach/ -- UC  San Diego (UCSD) Extension is partnering with the San Diego Biotechnology Network (SDBN) to provide custom life science courses based on direct feedback from local scientists. Project management training has been chosen as the first course in the series, as an overwhelming demand for the skills have been identified. The Biotech/Pharma Project Manager's Toolkit will begin January 23rd and run through April 3rd at UCSD Extension's University City Center. By working together, UCSD Extension and SDBN will engage, educate, and empower local scientists with custom training which will be continually adapted to their needs.

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According to the SDBN, there are 430 biotechnology companies in San Diego, providing everything from blood tests to pharmaceuticals to the research tools scientists use to develop products to improve human health and our quality of life. UCSD Extension has served this sector for more than 20 years by providing customized versions of publicly available classes to life science companies.

Custom UCSD Extension classes allow companies to leverage existing assets with new capabilities through training of existing personnel. The long and complex development cycle for pharmaceutical drugs means that a company may need expertise in biomedical research during its initial phase, and a focus on regulatory affairs as the program advances.

The complexity of the life science business, along with shifts in funding, have transformed the San Diego Biotechnology hub into a diverse collection of smaller, more nimble companies. These companies can be as small as one person, who manages partners "virtually" through traditional and new forms of online communication.

These local entrepreneurs find partners through their work experience and through networking, an activity that has been ramping up in San Diego. Collaboration, rather than competition, is often the focus of networking events hosted by the SDBN and other groups such as the San Diego Entrepreneur's Exchange.

UCSD Extension and SDBN are joining to foster even more collaboration through customized training which will focus on the needs of the region, and adapted as needed. The two organizations engaged SDBN members during last summer by surveying them to determine their needs for life science training. 32.9% of the 124 respondents indicated a need for training in 2015, with the leading topic areas being in project management, leadership, regulatory affairs, and drug discovery and development.

SDBN Founder Mary Canady commented "We've built a network of 14,000 local scientists and professionals, many working at smaller life science organizations. We see great potential in engaging, educating, and empowering local scientists to determine the best path forward towards growth and sustainability."

As a first step in providing customized training, the SDBN held a biotech project management workshop in November of 2014, which attracted more than 100 attendees, who provided additional input. The success of this workshop resulted in the establishment of a 10-session, 40-hour biotech project management course aimed at the region's biotech professionals and those who desire to enter the field. The Biotech/Pharma Project Manager's Toolkit will begin instruction January 23rd and will be taught by Yves Theriault, president/CEO of San Diego-based Performance Project Management LLC.

Theriault has a Ph.D. in Chemistry, a Certificate in Project Management from UCSD, and 18 years of relevant biotech/pharma project management experience. Students taking the Toolkit will benefit from one-on-one interactions with him and their classmates as they discuss issues unique to our local life science industry. In addition to personalized instruction, those who complete the Toolkit will receive credit towards UCSD Extension's Project Management Certificate.

UCSD Extension is the leading provider of accredited life science continuing education in the San Diego region.  By blending UCSD Extension's high quality instruction with a personalized, adaptive format, local life scientists will be empowered as never before.

Locke Epsten, UCSD Extension Director of Corporate Education, said "One of the biggest benefits of taking a UCSD Extension course, besides learning the subject area, is connecting with other classmates and instructors. In working with the SDBN, we'll be fostering a more collaborative educational ecosystem by helping life scientists make even more connections and relying on feedback to adapt to their training needs."

In 2015, quarterly SDBN networking events will focus on life science topic areas identified in the 2014 survey, and customized UCSD Extension courses will be announced based on further feedback. Companies interested in hosting UCSD Extension customized training should contact Locke Epsten at (858) 534-9150 or at depsten@ucsd.edu.

Media Contact: Mary Canady, Comprendia, (888) 588-3340, mcanady@comprendia.com

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