[BiO BB] PRESS RELEASE--BiTmaP: Midwest Bioinformatics Training Program appoints training partner for tuition-free program

Ann Reed areed at imdc.org
Tue May 17 15:35:21 EDT 2005

Contact:	Ann Reed				
				areed at bitmapchicago.com 	


Chicago, Ill. (May 16, 2005) - BiTmaP, a Chicago Technology Park-sponsored initiative that offers tuition-free bioinformatics training, announced today that it has chosen the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), the only accredited bioinformatics program in Illinois, as its academic training partner.  UIC will develop and administer the curriculum for the certificate program, which is designed to retrain unemployed and underemployed information technology (IT) workers in the fast-growing field of bioinformatics.   

Bioinformatics is the use of IT to acquire, store, manage and analyze biological data. For example, genomic research generates a large amount of complex data that involves millions of individual DNA building blocks.  Skilled IT workers with the ability to create software and hardware solutions to help scientists understand this data are in great demand in the life and health science industries.

"The creative force behind many technological advancements in the life sciences is the utilization of genomic data through bioinformatics tools," said Sam Pruett, executive director of the Illinois Medical District.  "We want to create a pool of highly-skilled bioinformatics professionals to drive innovation in a broad range of life science industry sectors.   With UIC's focused expertise and industry experience, the BiTmaP program will help to bridge the gap between the surplus of unemployed and underemployed IT professionals and the fast-growing Midwest life science community."

The BiTmaP training will utilize distance learning, work-site learning, and industry internships and seminars to provide IT professionals with the science knowledge and specific skills required to obtain and maintain employment as bioinformatics professionals.  BiTmaP students will increase earning potential, learn new skills, expand existing skills and earn twelve college-level credits and a certificate in bioinformatics from UIC.  The BiTmaP program will also serve as a workforce development program for qualified industry participants.

"Our goal is to create a sustainable and flexible retraining program that will help transition IT professionals to the fast-growing field of bioinformatics," said Ann Reed, program director for BiTmaP.  "BiTmaP partnerships with local businesses, learning institutions, industrial organizations and workforce development agencies help create a community focused on building the future life science workforce in the Midwest."

Dr. Hui Lu, professor of bioengineering at UIC, will serve as Academic Director for BiTmaP.  Dr. Lu and his team have more than ten years of experience in bioinformatics. Dr. Lu has published more than thirty peer-reviewed papers on bioinformatics and computational biophysics, and he has been invited to speak at numerous industry events.

The BiTmaP program will consist of three courses and an industry internship.  The total certification process is projected to take students up to one year to complete.  Classes are scheduled to begin in August 2005.  Interested students and industry participants should contact Ann Reed at areed at bitmapchicago.com  or 312-243-1289.

About BiTmaP:
BiTmaP is a tuition-free bioinformatics training program, designed to bridge the gap between the surplus of unemployed or underemployed information technology (IT) professionals and the fast-growing life science community in the Midwest.  BiTmaP is sponsored by a $3 million grant awarded to the Chicago Technology Park by the U.S. Department of Labor.  BiTmaP has appointed the University of Illinois at Chicago to provide IT professionals with the science knowledge and specific IT skills required to obtain and maintain employment as bioinformatics professionals.  For more information, please visit www.bitmapchicago.com or call 312-243-1289.

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