FOX47 NEWS - New Stem Cell Rules Could Mean Jobs for MATC Students

Jeff Angileri
Mar 9, 2009, 10:08 PM

Students at Madison Area Technical College are preparing for a new wave of interest in stem cell studies, after President Barack Obama lifted restrictions on federal funding. Even though MATC wouldn't directly receive any money, instructors say the possibility of stem cell labs benefitting from President Obamas decision could trickle down to the school in other ways.

MATC offers the only 2-year program in the country with training in embryonic stem cells, according to a spokesperson. Right now, more than 60 students are working toward biotech laboratory degrees.

We're sort of the crew behind the scenes, said Shari Seymour, MATC biotech student.

They make the solutions. They design the experiments. They run the gels that do the testing for a variety of research projects, said Jeanette Mowery, MATC biotech instructor.

And they're about to embark upon research, they hope, will spur medical breakthroughs.

I would love dearly to find cures or treatments for these diseases because I know what these people go thru, Seymour said.

This month, MATC is starting a new class teaching techniques to growing embryonic stem cells -- a course that could equal jobs down the road. Placement rates are already above 90 percent, according to instructors. With federal funding of embryonic stem cells now a possibility, students are even more optimistic.

That opens up opportunities for a career which I dearly love because I love laboratory work, Seymour said.

And instructors hope, federal money will stimulate private investment in education.

I think it'll be really great for the Madison community because this is where stem cells started, Mowery said.

MATC estimates there are more than 100 biotech companies in Wisconsin, employing 9,000 people. Starting salaries for entry level jobs average $30,000, depending on the employer.

Instructors say an MATC biotech degree is a local investment because the majority of graduates choose to live and work in the Madison area.


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