Holyoke Community College opened its new Center for Life Sciences Tuesday.

The $4.55 million project was largely funded by a $3.8 million grant from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center and supplemented $750,000 from the HCC Foundation’s Building Healthy Communities Campaign.

HCC is the first community college in Massachusetts to provide this type of advanced study opportunity. which is meant to prepare students for future work in the state’s pharmaceutical industry.

“There’s a tremendous amount of new treatments for cancer and so on coming out of the biotechnology industry right now,” Dr. James Knapp, a professor of biology, explained, “and we hope some of our students can participate in that.”

Biotech student Morgan Slate told 22News “I’m really interested in doing some clinical research, genomic research and I know that having the experience—already working with the machines in an environment such as this—is going to help me have a step up above everyone else.”

According to HCC Spokesperson Chris Yurko, the 13,000 square foot facility opened in time for the beginning of the semester and features a suite of new biotechnology classrooms, labs, and an ISO certified instructional clean room. 

Yurko said the new labs will be used primarily for biotechnology, genetics, and microbiology classes, but will also be used for other biology courses as needed.

New equipment for the center was paid for with grants and donations and includes a research-grade fluorescent microscope, a micro-volume spectrophotometer, and an electroporator. 

The school will hold a grand opening celebration for the center at some point during the fall semester.