Industry-driven curriculum designed to help scientists start companies and succeed in state’s life sciences sector

Published Tuesday, July 10, 2012

(Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. – July 10, 2012) The Employ Florida Banner Center for Life Sciences at Palm Beach State College has entered into a year-long agreement to offer industry-driven workshops at Scripps Florida, a division of the nonprofit Scripps Research Institute. The workshops are being presented onsite in Jupiter for Scripps Florida staff, students and faculty.

The initial Banner Center workshops will focus on the business side of the life sciences industry, a topic of strong interest to many postdoctoral fellows and Ph.D.-seeking graduate students attending the Scripps Research Kellogg School of Science and Technology. The “Business Basics for the Life Sciences Industry” four-part workshop series explores the career pathways open to scientists, the fundamentals of starting a life sciences company, and good manufacturing practices in FDA-regulated industries—topics identified by the Banner Center’s Industry Advisory Council and statewide focus groups as knowledge gaps in the life sciences workforce.

Vanessa Saunders, Ph.D., a Scripps Florida postdoctoral research associate and workshop participant, is an active member of BioFlorida’s Industry Connections Network, a group that helped arrange the Banner Center training at Scripps Research. “Banner Center workshops will introduce individuals like myself to the business aspects of bringing science to the public,” said Saunders. “Personally, I am very interested in moving science, technology and ideas out of the lab. I want to know my research will lead to something tangible that will benefit the public.”

The workshops are examples of several education modules developed by the Banner Center for Life Sciences. The Banner Center, funded through Workforce Florida Inc., serves as a statewide resource for workforce education focused on the biotechnology, pharmaceutical and medical device sectors, and its customizable programs are being deployed across the state in venues ranging from company offices to the classrooms and laboratories of Palm Beach State and the Banner Center’s academic partners.

Workshop presenters offer a unique combination of industry experience gained locally and nationally. Robert Nagro, a corporate executive, investment banker and business consultant, has played a leadership role in life sciences sector startups and has helped raise approximately $60 million in venture funding. Tod Fairbanks, Ph.D., a Palm Beach State College professor of biology and biotechnology, brings his prior senior executive experience at Pfizer, Abbott Laboratories and Bristol-Myers Squibb.

“We are honored to work with Scripps Florida. Such an alliance reflects the mission of the Banner Center, which is to listen to industry members and provide training that fits their needs and goals,” says Fairbanks.

Workshop participants gave the first workshop on June 27 high ratings. “Workshops like this are very helpful for those of us who still have not decided our next step,” says Steven P. Bennett, Ph.D., a Scripps Research postdoctoral fellow specializing in cancer biology.

Designated in 2011 as an Employ Florida Banner Center by Workforce Florida, Inc., The Employ Florida Banner Center for Life Sciences at Palm Beach State College is Florida’s industry-driven resource for life sciences workforce education and training. It is a consortium of industry, workforce and education partners providing training and career advancement solutions for Florida’s life sciences industry including medical devices, pharmaceutical and biotechnology. For more information, see

Serving more than 51,000 students annually, Palm Beach State College is the largest institution of higher education in Palm Beach County, providing bachelor’s degrees, associate degrees, professional certificates, career training and lifelong learning. Established in 1933 as Florida's first public community college, it offers more than 100 programs of study at locations in Lake Worth, Boca Raton, Palm Beach Gardens and Belle Glade. For more information, see

The Scripps Research Institute is one of the world's largest independent, not-for-profit organizations focusing on research in the biomedical sciences. Over the past decades, Scripps Research has developed a lengthy track record of major contributions to science and health, including laying the foundation for new treatments for cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, hemophilia, and other diseases. The institute employs about 3,000 people on its campuses in La Jolla, CA, and Jupiter, FL, where its renowned scientists—including three Nobel laureates—work toward their next discoveries. The institute's graduate program, which awards Ph.D. degrees in biology and chemistry, ranks among the top ten of its kind in the nation. For more information, see