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Resources for Students

Interested in building the knowledge, skills and abilities needed to have a successful career in the biosciences or medical device industries? Virginia Bio is eager to help connect students across the Commonwealth with opportunities to learn more about the biosciences. Please share this page with students who might be interested in learning more about this exciting industry and how to connect with their peers.

What is biotechnology?

Biotechnology is the use of biological processes to solve problems or make useful products. Recombinant DNA, an important toll of the biotechnology industry, is a method of making proteins such as human insulin and other therapies in cultured cells under controlled manufacturing conditions. There are more than 400 biotech drug products and vaccines currently in clinical trials targeting more than 200 diseases, including various cancers, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, AIDS and arthritis. The biotechnology industry has mushroomed since 1992, with U.S. health care biotech revenues from publicly traded companies rising from $8 billion in 1992 to $58.8 billion in 2006.

What is Virginia Bio?

Virginia Bio, formed in 1992, is the premier statewide non-profit trade association representing the life sciences industry in the Commonwealth of Virginia. More than 200 member organizations have joined forces to make VABIO an effective advocate for the biopharmaceutical and device industries before federal, state and local policy-makers. Members of the Association are engaged in numerous initiatives to promote STEM education, workforce training and educational initiatives to support the growth of the industry in Virginia. VABIO is the official state affiliate of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), in Washington, D.C.

Initiatives of Interest

Virginia Bioscience Foundation

The Virginia Bioscience Foundation is the bioscience industry’s premier voice on issues related to science education and workforce development in Virginia. Founded in 2007, the 501 (C) 3 education foundation’s mission is to lead the way on STEM education, bioscience internships, student awards and other key science education initiatives. For more information, please visit

Virginia Science Fair Awards for Excellence in the Biosciences

The Virginia Bioscience Foundation and VABIO sponsor annual awards for excellence at the Virginia State Science and Engineering Fair and some regional fairs as well. Volunteers are needed to assist with the annual judging competition. For more information, please contact VBF at

Virginia State Science and Engineering Fair 

Virginia BioGENEius Challenge

The Virginia BioGENEius Challenge, sponsored by ATCC, is a "virtual science fair” challenge. Any student in a Virginia public or private high school (grades 9 to 12) currently enrolled in biology or science-related courses are eligible. Judging preference will be given to students that have competed in a regional or at the state science fair; or have competed in another science fair in the past 12 months. All students that apply will be required to submit a .pdf of their poster presentation for judging. Two finalists are selected to represent the Commonwealth at the US National BioGENEius Challenge held each year during the BIO International Convention.  In the past three years, Virginia has had two students selected as top ten finalists in the US National BioGENEius Challenge, Riley Ennis from McLean, VA in 2011, and Samantha Marquez of Richmond in 2013. 

Virginia Bioscience Internship Grants

The Virginia Bioscience Foundation (VBF), an initiative of Virginia Bio, offers matching funds of $1,000 to life science companies for summer internships. The criteria are as follows: The biotechnology or medical device company must be planning to match or exceed the $1,000 award for the intern and the intern must be currently enrolled in a Virginia institution of higher education or be a resident of the Commonwealth currently enrolled in an institution of higher education.

VABIO Student Chapters

high schools students visiting a UVa labInterested in connecting with your high school or college peers who share your interests in the biosciences and medical devices? VABIO student chapters are self led by student leaders and arrange for various club programs, job fairs and social gatherings. Active VABIO student chapters are operating at James Madison University, the University of Virginia and at Virginia Commonwealth University. There are also high school chapters in Charlottesville and other counties and cities.


Interested in joining a chapter or starting one at your school? Please email Also, there is a VABIO Students Facebook Group (students only):


The Monticello High School (Albemarle County) Health and Medical Sciences Academy (HMSA)

The Monticello High School Health and Medical Sciences Academy’s mission is to empower students for success, utilizing 21st century skills, while exploring health science career opportunities. The program will provide students a foundation for post-secondary education or workforce readiness in certified health related professions. Students will explore core content with technology through integrated projects, case studies, and focused learning experiences. Click here for more information.


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