WPI’s unique Biomanufacturing Education and Training Center (BETC) recently earned kudos from the Massachusetts Biomedical Initiatives (MBI), which cited the program as one of the state’s top new centers for industry training and innovation. The recognition came last month as a panel on the future of the industry convened at AbbVie Bioresearch Center by MBI, an economic development agency dedicated to job creation and innovative healthcare throughout Massachusetts by promoting the growth of start-up biomedical companies.
BETC director Kamal Rashid, left, points out some lab features to visitors.
Other educational institutions, including Holy Cross and Worcester State University, were also recognized for their efforts. “Massachusetts is a hub of science and technology, no question about it,” says BETC director Kamal Rashid. “The center was built to help the state of Massachusetts maintain the lead in the biomanufacturing industry, and WPI, being a university that has always believed in collaborating with industry, makes it the perfect place to [situate] it.”
Specific challenges for the industry include finding experienced technicians with specialty skills that align with a highly regulated work environment, such as cGMPs, validation, quality control, and regulatory requirements.
“WPI has realized this need and invested significantly in establishing a biomanufacturing center dedicated to the workforce needs of industry because continued economic success of the industry requires a highly trained workforce,” Rashid adds.
“What we are doing at the BETC is really just another example of what our core mission has always been, which is leveraging science and engineering to advance the leading technological industries of the day,” says Stephen Flavin, VP, Academic & Corporate Development. “We are very fortunate to have Kamal leading the BETC,” he says.
“He is a world-renowned expert in this field who brings more than 30 years of experience to our university. Kamal has already expanded the curriculum and capabilities of the center and he is building a strong team to help deliver the programs that will benefit our students and corporate partners.”
Funded in part by a grant from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, the WPI Biomanufacturing Education and Training Center is a fully functional Biomanufacturing pilot plant, providing hands-on training and educational opportunities for the multi-layered workforce needed to produce medicines and research compounds using engineered living cells. Industry experts worked closely with WPI faculty at every step of the Center’s development, from facility planning to curriculum design.
“Biomanufacturing, and biologic drug research and development, are major growth industries in Massachusetts and the Northeast,” says Flavin. “The BETC gives WPI a unique resource to help companies across those sectors grow through workforce development. It also will be a platform to help companies improve their manufacturing processes as we enhance the services offered at the BETC.
“Academically, the BETC will be an important core facility for life sciences faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates. Programs are now in development that will bring WPI students into the BETC for research and bioprocess development projects, enriching their education with real-world operational experience.”
For more information on the BETC, visit http://www.wpi.edu/corporations/about-betc.html.
– BY CATE PRATO