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By Naomi Jones, Development Coordinator, MassBioEd

Advancement of medicine since early 2000s

Over the last twenty years, there have been significant advances in medical research and disease treatment related to innovations in the biotechnology industry. Scientific innovation during the 2000s saw a great deal of development in new technologies, with biotechnology having a major impact on health care. During the 2000s, biotech expanded into work with chronic diseases, developing products and biologics to treat them. The biggest biotech advancements of the past two decades include the Human Genome Project, minimally invasive surgery techniques, a curative treatment for Hepatitis C, CRISPR gene-editing technology, the development of the first Ebola vaccine, and more. In addition, the advancements of the past decade have set us up for further success and progress in the next decade.

Growth of employment since early 2000s

The U.S. life sciences industry has grown over the last twenty years. Even during the decade from 2001 to 2010, while the overall economy recorded a decline in jobs, the industry saw job growth of 6.4%. This includes a large spike in biopharma employment in 2007. In 2008, Governor Deval Patrick introduced, and the Legislature passed, a billion-dollar initiative to support the life sciences industry in Massachusetts. In 2018, Governor Charlie Baker continued this initiative with an additional investment of over $500 million, focusing on furthering investments in education, research and development, and workforce training. This life sciences initiative played a large role in cementing Massachusetts as a life sciences leader nationwide. Employment in the life sciences industry is 3.6 times more concentrated in Massachusetts relative to the national average. The life sciences industry continues to grow across the Commonwealth, with the Boston-Cambridge area home to more than 500 biotech companies, 3 of the top 4 NIH-funded hospitals in the US, and 48 colleges. Over the last 15 years, life sciences industry jobs grew by 94% in Massachusetts, with over 24,500 jobs added just in the last ten years. In 2019, hiring in the life sciences industry was at an all-time high, with companies scrambling to find talent. Biotech industries accounted for 1.3 million jobs in the U.S. in 2019, with 80,159 of those jobs clustered in the Boston-Cambridge area. The pandemic is expected to result in increasing numbers of jobs in the biotech and life sciences industries. The employment rate in these industries is predicted to grow by 5% between 2019 and 2029, faster than other industries. In 2020, life sciences companies in Massachusetts employed more than 89,000 people.


The past year of coping with the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that the importance of the life sciences industry cannot be understated. Biotechnology is at the core of understanding the virus and developing treatments and vaccines. The life sciences industry was able to develop diagnostics, treatments, and a safe and effective vaccine at record speed, instilling greater confidence in the industry and demonstrating its value. The vaccine took less than a year to develop, breaking the previous record of 4 years for the mumps vaccine. COVID-19 has shown the importance of investing in vaccine development and the life sciences industry.

The last two decades have shown an amazing progression of life science knowledge and industry that culminated in world-wide impact when needed most. MassBioEd’s work has directly intersected with and responded to the rapid changes in the life sciences. Developing a strong workforce is central to our mission, focusing on high-quality K-12 science education programming, supporting entry for adult workers to meaningful jobs with family-sustaining wages and career growth opportunities, and providing training to incumbent workers. As we celebrate our 20th Anniversary, we take the time to look at our own fast paced history and share the highlights of the last 20 years. View our 20-Year Timeline.

Join us on our journey of celebrating the past 20 years and looking to the next 20 years!