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As co-lead of BioConnects New England (BCNE), Dr. Alicia Sasser Modestino is well versed in the importance of creating equitable pathways in the life sciences industry – particularly in regions of New England that historically have been underserved.
BCNE, a multi-state coalition, has as its mission the formation of a biomanufacturing cluster in areas of Massachusetts, Maine, and Rhode Island that are largely excluded from the biotechnology industry, one of the fastest growing sectors in New England with national importance. This initiative seeks to connect hubs throughout New England to support existing—and establish new—biomanufacturing infrastructure as a conduit to increase employment and educational opportunities for specific regions and populations.

In addition to co-lead of BCNE, Dr. Modestino, who holds both a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University, is an associate professor with appointments in the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs and the Department of Economics at Northeastern University. She also serves as the research director of the university’s Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy.

Dr. Modestino is currently an Affiliated Researcher of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab, a Nonresident Fellow at the Brookings Institution, and a Research Fellow at the IZA Institute of Labor Economics. Previously, Dr. Modestino was a Senior Economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston where, for more than a decade, she conducted research on regional economic and policy issues. Her current research focuses on labor and health economics, including youth development, skills mismatch, childcare, and the opioid crisis.

Dr. Modestino’s expertise in regional economics, labor economics, housing, workforce development, health economics, inequality, social policy, economic development, economic impacts of biomanufacturing, and inclusion-focused economic development brings a specific and integral perspective to the BCNE initiative.

Her role within the coalition extends to membership of the External Advisory Board, a 13-member panel that provides non-binding strategic oversight and expertise/advice to others on the BCNE leadership team to ensure the outcomes of the coalition align with the proposed directions and Economic Development Administration objectives in terms of economic growth, particularly in underserved populations and those hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Modestino has provided testimony to policymakers on labor market issues, has authored numerous opinion pieces and articles pertaining to equitable employment, and has served as a panelist in forums, including the Greater Boston Life Sciences Industry Panel hosted by the Boston Office of Workforce Development and Northeastern University.

She is a sought-after resource for media outlets ranging from The New York Times to MSNBC, having contributed to over 20 publications and broadcasts in the past two years (2022 and 2023) alone.

Biomanufacturing will continue to play a crucial role in New England’s economy, with Massachusetts alone projected to need an additional 40,000 biomanufacturing jobs over the next decade. The BCNE focus on equity, innovation, and preparing those seeking employment in this burgeoning industry is at the heart of Dr. Modestino’s participation in and commitment to the initiative.

Dr. Modestino is dedicated to BCNE’s goal of creating a robust biomanufacturing industry in New England that will engender positive impacts for the economy and for job seekers looking to transition into a successful and well-funded sector. She is highly knowledgeable about the biomanufacturing industry and is a skilled public speaker, making her a valuable media resource about the subject and its vital role in economic growth, job creation, and scientific breakthroughs in New England.