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By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Wistar Institute, in West Philadelphia, has registered a first-of-its-kind, non-traditional apprenticeship program in bio-medical research.

It’s helping to diversify a field where women and minorities have been under-represented.

It’s an old-fashioned concept, but Wistar Academic Affairs Director William Wunner says the apprenticeship will teach skills for the workforce of the future.

“The ability to facilitate experimental procedures, manage a laboratory, monitor lab safety, conduct data analysis on experiments,” Wunner said.

READ: Wistar Institute Female Scientist Team Receives Grant

It grows out of a training program he started 17 years ago with Community College of Philadelphia.

Of the 130 graduates since, 57% are minority and 72% are women.

Trainee Amanda Moran, at 26, sees herself as the kind of non-traditional student who benefits.

“I was a waitress for a long time, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but I didn’t think there would be opportunities like this and Dr. William Wunner has done an amazing thing, because he’s tapped into that resource of people who started a little bit later but are serious about what they want to do, and there’s a lot of that in Philadelphia,” she said.

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