JAX and the Roux Institute: building a biotech workforce

The Jackson Laboratory’s Bar Harbor campus was home base for the Roux Institute at Northeastern University’s Biotechnology Applied Lab course. Trainees in attendance (pictured) are Master of Science in Biotechnology students at the Roux Institute.

Mouse models provide researchers with a uniquely powerful tool for understanding the mechanisms of human disease and testing of novel drug therapies. So it was a natural fit for trainees in The Roux Institute at Northeastern University’s Master of Science in Biotechnology program to take a foundational skills course using the mouse as an experimental  model system at The Jackson Laboratory. The biotechnology applied lab course allowed learners to gain hands-on experience over a three-day period at the Laboratory’s Bar Harbor campus.

“JAX is likely the only organization in the world that can provide both breadth and depth of mouse skills training for 21st century biomedical careers. We were very pleased to host Roux-Northeastern masters students who will be seeking careers in biotech in Maine,” says Vice President for Education  Charles WrayProvides direction and strategic leadership for training programs for undergraduates, graduate students, post-doctoral fellows at JAX and for educational offerings for young scientists, teachers, professors and healthcare professionals.Charlie Wray , Ph.D.

Michael Wilczek, postdoctoral research fellow and instructor at the Roux Institute, adds that the workshop complements the other modules in the master’s program by exposing learners to the vast opportunities in biotechnology available across Maine. “Specifically, the workshop at JAX offers a unique perspective as a world leader in understanding the genetic and molecular mechanisms of disease using the mouse as a model,” he said.

“The hands-on experience is arguably one of the best ways to learn and being able to use it in a mouse model - in a lab setting that’s structured with an institution that knows what they’re doing inside and out - is extremely beneficial,” says Dan Avery, a Roux learner and research scientist who participated in the course. “You’re basically learning the techniques you need from the people that do it every day."

An interview with Dan Avery from the Roux Institute at Northeastern University

From co-ops to experiential learning: a synergistic partnership

In 2020, Northeastern  Northeastern partners with entrepreneur David Roux to launch the Roux Institute at Northeastern University in Portland, MaineThe Jackson Laboratory is partnering with The Roux Institute at Northeastern to bring an engine of innovation, talent and economic growth to the Portland, Maine region.launched the Roux Institute with tech entrepreneur and chairman of The Jackson Laboratory Board of Trustees David Roux to build expertise at the intersection of humans and machines. The institute is designed to spur innovation, build talent, and drive economic growth in Portland, the state of Maine, and the Northeast, and offers graduate education and research capabilities in AI, computer and data sciences, digital engineering, and the advanced life sciences and medicine.

JAX is a founding partner of the institute and to date the partnership has generated a pipeline of nearly 20 initiatives aligned with the Laboratory’s strategic priorities, including co-ops, degree and certificate enrollment, experiential learning, research collaborations and engagements, and grants.

The partnership builds on the multitude of opportunities that  JAX Genomic EducationWhether your focus is on genetics research of expanding the use of genetics in your clinical practice, we welcome you.JAX Genomic Education currently offers to learners in Maine, including the Summer Student Program, the Teaching the Genome Generation™ program, The Maine State Science Fair and other courses, workshops and programs that serve high school, undergraduate, postbaccalaureate, graduate and postdoctoral learners as well as clinicians, research assistants, scientists, lab technicians and science teachers. 

“The Roux Institute’s approach to partnership, in which they align to the talent demands, research questions, and innovation needs of employers in Maine, makes Roux an outstanding, differentiated partner for The Jackson Laboratory,” says Chief of Presidential Initiatives  Madeleine BraunResponsible for planning and implementation of operations, administration, and partnerships in support of key strategic growth initiatives.Madeleine Braun , Ph.D., MBA, who leads the Laboratory’s partnership with the Roux Institute.

“The Jackson Laboratory is pleased to host the students for part of their experiential learning. These valuable, hands-on experiences shape and advance the students’ career development while also familiarizing them with our institution’s mission and science.”

Braun says that goals of the partnership include creating a talent pipeline for attraction, development and retention of technologists, data scientists and project managers at the Laboratory; increasing JAX’s impact through co-developed genomics education program; accelerating strategic digital innovation projects; and leveraging the Roux Institute’s entrepreneurship education and venture creation platform.

“JAX has established itself as an invaluable resource for the State of Maine and globally; the Roux Institute at Northeastern University is a new technological talent and innovation hub anchored in Portland, Maine, where its mission is to shape and revitalize the talent for the State of Maine,” says Wilczek.

“I think our synergies align with our goal for the State: creating new research collaborations, developing experiential learning opportunities, and sharing educational resources to provide exceptional training opportunities for Mainers and non-Mainers alike.”