Bay Area biotech giveaway is teachers' treasure

Biotech research is a growing industry in the Bay Area aiming for scientific state-of-the-art breakthroughs. The cutting-edge research, though, also can create enormous amounts of equipment and materials that are outdated or no longer needed when labs retool for new projects.

To avoid waste and sending all the materials to landfill, a non-profit Bio-Link Depot is hoping to salvage the materials for use by school teachers in their classrooms.

Bio-Link Depot was founded in 2003 through City College, and just became a non-profit at the end of 2015. It operates basically, as a clearinghouse for beakers, Petri dishes, microscopes, centrifuges, and other items no longer needed

The Bio-Link Depot holds open houses every other month for science educators, giving them an opportunity to sort through the donations and pick out what they need for use in their classrooms.

Call it a bio-tech garage sale of sorts. What's trash to Bay Area biotech firms is a science teacher's treasure.

"This right here which you might think looks like a stove from the 1950's but it's a centrifuge from the 1970's," said Kristen Wolslegel, Exec. Director, Bay Area Biotechnology Education Consortium

Call it a bio-tech garage sale of sorts. What's trash to Bay Area biotech firms is a science teacher's treasure.

"UCSF no longer needed it. They got something more sophisticated, but it's absolutely wonderful for high school science education," said Wolslegel.

"We're getting donations from all different companies. UCSF Genentech are our two biggest donors," said Daniel Michael, Bio-Link Depot's organizer.

The program started in 2003 and became its own non-profit this year.

Milpitas High School teacher Gordon Sanford teaches a course on forensic science. He says the open houses open doors for teachers and students.

"Micropipettes are about $200 a piece and now we've got so many we've got a class of 36 and each student has one," said Sanford, "It's been a godsend.

School administrators say it helps their bottom line.

"Science in particular especially in Silicon Valley where we have to try and stay up with everything that's going on is expensive for all the consumable materials," said Cheryl Lawton, Principal of Milpitas High School.

Organizers say the Bio-Link Depot distributed about $433,000 worth of goods in 2015.

The open house donation giveaway runs Saturday from 10-2 p.m at the City College campus just north of SFO.