Johnson County Community College is a great place for students to begin their educational journey and discover unique career paths. For example, introductory science courses at JCCC open the door to opportunities in specialized fields like biotechnology.
Introducing a High-Demand Career Path
“The field of biotechnology brings us so many amazing innovations in medicine, agriculture and animal health,” says Heather Seitz, Professor of Biotechnology at JCCC. “It’s amazing learning about all the products that have been developed like recombinant insulin for diabetics, human growth hormone used to treat lots of growth disorders, crops that are drought-resistant and new vaccine technologies.”
JCCC’s Introduction to Biotechnology dives into career exploration, history and applications of technology, molecular biology and bioethics. This course allows students to develop biotechnology skills while researching and developing an actual biotech product.
“Students will learn how to create a product and then they will be able to develop, test and package the product for use by other courses on campus,” says Seitz. “It’s an exciting opportunity for an aspiring biotechnologist.”
A Culture of Success
As the field of biotechnology continues to grow, Seitz wants to spread the word to students considering a career in medicine.
“I see tons of students who want to cure diseases and we need people working in the labs and helping to test and develop new strategies,” she says. “This work is really what cures diseases but it’s not something people often say when asked what they want to be when they grow up. I would argue that they just don’t know the name of this important career.”
Students can enter the biotechnology industry after earning an associate degree. Common careers include manufacturing technician, cell culture technician, instrument calibration technician, clinical research associate, clinical research administrator and medical laboratory assistant.
Location is Key
Kansas City is home to the Animal Health Corridor, the largest collection of animal health biotechnology companies in the world. In total, there are over 300 biotech companies in the Kansas City metro area, making JCCC an ideal location for this field of study.
Students seeking a bachelor’s degree in biotechnology won’t have to look far. JCCC’s courses transfer seamlessly to the University of Kansas Edwards Campus biotechnology program. A bachelor’s degree allows students to work for companies that manufacture vaccines, develop new diagnostic tests and create personalized medicines and other products.
Randy Logan, Director of KU’s biotechnology program, tells students that each class they take before their transfer is an important one.
“The classes you take in your freshman and sophomore year lay the foundation for your downstream coursework,” he said. “You will build on that foundation and expand in complex and exciting ways. Focus on mastering the content you are given and never treat the classes as a check-the-box exercise.”
Treating Man’s Best Friend
JCCC alum Fareeha Lodhi started her work in the field of cancer treatment after completing the biotechnology program at KU Edwards. Lodhi is a laboratory manufacturing associate at ELIAS Animal Health in Kansas City. She studies immunotherapy treatment that creates cancer vaccines for canine patients.
“Biotechnology is a vast field and is playing a vital role in the healthcare industry, especially the pharmaceutical and agricultural industry,” she said. “I was always fascinated by the lab environment, cell cultures and medicinal industry. To work in this field every day is a dream.”
Start Your Journey