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Life Sciences Week highlights health of industry in the state (it's stronger than you may think)

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Steve Wills, the COO, CFO and executive VP of Palatin Technologies, holds his company's Auto Injector for Bremelanotide (BMT).
Steve Wills, the COO, CFO and executive VP of Palatin Technologies, holds his company's Auto Injector for Bremelanotide (BMT). - (PHOTO BY AARON HOUSTON)

The Christie administration and the bio tech industry are celebrating Life Sciences Week in an effort to show the industry — once one of the biggest and most important in New Jersey — is still very much alive.

Department of Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Harold J. Wirths said recent layoffs have led to a growing misconception about the status of the industry.

"New Jersey is still called the world's medicine chest because it is home to more than 360 biotechnology companies and 17 of the top 20 pharmaceutical and medical technology firms that are developing many of the drugs and vaccines that make our world healthier," he said. "This is a crucial industry to the Garden State economy, providing more than 116,000 jobs and paying more than $14.8 billion in wages annually."

RELATED: After years of downturn, life science numbers are on the rise

According to the organizers, Life Sciences Week is designed to bring together employers, job-seekers, entrepreneurs, educators and students to increase understanding of the important contributions the life sciences industry makes in the lives of people worldwide.  It also highlights New Jersey companies that are advancing medical research and patients care.

BioNJ President and CEO Debbie Hart feels that her company, which is an association that supports life sciences and operates the Life Science Network  is vital to the industry.

According to Hart, the Life Sciences Talent Network attempts to connect New Jersey professionals with careers in pharmaceuticals, biotech, medical device technology, clinical operations and medical diagnostics. It supports employers with talent acquisition and recruitment, talent pipeline development and business outreach. 

Hart said this week will help her group get the word out.

"The partnership on Life Science Week between the Department of Labor and Workforce Development and BioNJ is public-private partnership at its best," she said. "It provides the perfect opportunity to showcase the important work being done by our companies as well as the continued growth of the biotechnology industry here in New Jersey."

RELATED: Collaboration is the new trend for life science companies

The week opened Monday when members of the Christie Administration toured RUCDR Infinite Biologics, a unit of Rutgers' Human Genetics Institute of New Jersey and the world's largest university-based, bio-repository located on the university's Busch Campus.

Organizers said RUCDR was chosen for the Life Sciences Week kick-off because it offers a complete and integrated selection of biological sample processing, analysis and bio-repository services to government agencies, academic institutions, foundations, and biotech and pharma companies within the global scientific community.

RUCDR Infinite Biologics provides DNA, RNA and cell lines with clinical data to hundreds of research laboratories for studies on mental health and developmental disorders, drug and alcohol abuse, diabetes and digestive, and liver and kidney diseases.

RELATED: 'The female Viagra': N.J. bio tech developing such a drug

Other highlights include:

Tuesday: Students2Science Field Day. Students2Science Inc., a public charity operating a chemistry laboratory to provide young students with an authentic STEM-related work experience, will open its facility at 66 Deforest Ave., East Hanover, to students from the Newark Discovery Charter School.

Thursday: Career/Connection Industry Career Fair: The Life Sciences Talent Network at BioNJ will conduct its 4th Annual Industry Career Fair at the New Jersey Center of Excellence located at 1041 U.S. Highway 202/206 in Bridgewater. Come meet and network with life sciences companies looking to hire New Jersey's top talent.

For more information on the Life Sciences Talent Network and the Industry Week events, click here.

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