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Holland College Bioscience Technology Program Earns Praise

The following is one in a series of stories about the P.E.I. BioScience Cluster by Margaret Magner, Ph.D., who lives in Charlottetown.

When Dr. Michael Gibson launched Holland College’s bioscience technology program, he had no idea that within five years it would be heralded by Maclean’s magazine as one of 2011’s “Red-Hot Postgraduate Programs” in Canada.

Gibson, a biological engineer from the University of Guelph, seized a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to move to Prince Edward Island, designing a program to create the biotechnologists needed to support an emerging bioscience sector.

The program’s graduates master scientific theory and hands-on laboratory experience — related to pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals and environment, food, and agricultural sciences — preparing for careers in a bioscience lab or a biotech-based manufacturing or production facility.

Candidates applying to the program may seek to upgrade skills, earn a nationally recognized qualification, enhance a university degree, or pursue employment opportunities in a bioscience sector eagerly recruiting its graduates.

The sector, which lobbied for the program’s creation, continues to support its evolution.

Dr. Edward Charter, food and bioscience technology manager for BioFood Tech, offers recommendations on lab equipment purchases, ensuring they are typical of the industry. He hired two graduates from the program he believes “could compete with any other in the country.”

Dr. Russell Kerr, CEO of Nautilus Biosciences Canada, currently employs five graduates and praises the program for “turning out highly proficient biotechnologists with hands-on experience that allows them to be functional from day one.”

Mike Gibson is justifiably proud of the success of his students, the program, and its contribution to P.E.I.

“The province recognizes bioscience as a pillar of the economy. Our ‘Red Hot Program’ designation helps us meet that challenge by attracting university graduates seeking related practical skills and connections. What a powerful way to make bioscience part of our literacy when it comes to food, disease, and the environment.”