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Life Sciences Intern Challenge Leads to Significant Discoveries

Posted on June 11, 2013

Massachusetts graduate student Brian Dutra recently won first place at an international engineering competition for his research on acoustics in the bloodstream. Applications of his research include the detection of cancer cells in the bloodstream, filtering contaminants out of polluted water, and separating algae-based biofuels from biomass.

Molecular Structures.SmallDutra performed his groundbreaking research as an intern at a local company, FloDesign Sonics, in Wilbraham, Mass. He completed his internship through the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center‘s (MLSC)Internship Challenge program.

The Challenge provides students and recent college graduates with hands-on work experience through paid internships at life sciences companies across the state.

AIM members like Albright Technologies of Leominster, Mass., have participated. Since 2010, Albright Technologies has hired seven interns subsidized by the MLSC.

“Since first participating in the Internship Challenge, we have permanently hired two of our interns as Project Managers,” said Bob Waitt, President of Albright Technologies.

“All three of our engineers started at Albright as interns, two of them as part of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Internship Challenge. Their hard work and dedication has contributed to 31 percent growth since 2011,” Waitt said.

The MLSC’s Internship Challenge enables life sciences companies of 100 or fewer employees in Massachusetts, or 250 or fewer worldwide, to identify and hire interns interested in developing their careers in the life sciences industry. The MLSC maintains an online portal to help companies find qualified interns, and reimburses companies for their interns’ salaries, up to $7,200 per intern. Larger life sciences companies may source interns through the MLSC’s online portal, but are not eligible for reimbursement.

In addition to exposing local life sciences companies to top-rate talent, this program provides opportunities for students to immerse themselves in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical device, diagnostics and bioinformatics industry sectors.

Since the program first launched in 2009, the MLSC has placed nearly 1,200 interns with 335 companies. Many of these interns have indicated that their MLSC internship helped them decide that they would like to pursue a career in the life sciences.

In 2012, the MLSC received federal grant funding to support the expansion of the Internship Challenge program. The MLSC will receive $800,000 over four years as part of a $5 million grant awarded to the City of Boston from the U.S. Department of Labor intended to grow and maintain the area’s life sciences workforce. The Internship Challenge is now serving as a model for the establishment of similar programs at the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center and the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative.

To learn more about the MLSC’s Internship Challenge program, click here.