Worcester Polytechnic Institute today named Kamal A. Rashid, PhD, as director of the university's Biomanufacturing Education and Training Center (BETC). An internationally recognized leader in biotechnology education, research and workforce development programs, he will also hold research professorships in the departments of Chemical Engineering, Biology and Biotechnology, and Chemistry and Biochemistry.
Rashid joins WPI with more than 30 years of experience in academia and industry. Under his leadership the newly opened BETC will design and deliver programs that educate and train the multilayered work force needed by the growing biomanufacturing industry in the United States and around the world.
"We are pleased and fortunate to have Dr. Rashid, a true leader and pioneer in his field, joining the WPI community," said Stephen Flavin, vice president for academic and corporate development at WPI. "The depth of his experience and the breadth of his accomplishments are perfectly aligned with the BETC's mission to make a positive impact on the economy of this region and the global biomanufacturing industry."
Rashid comes to WPI from Utah State University where he has worked since 2000 as a research professor and associate director of the university's Center for Integrated BioSystems. At Utah, he developed the university's bioprocessing facility to support undergraduate and graduate education and faculty research, and as a contract services provider of training programs and process development for biotechnology companies. From 1984 to 2000 He was on the faculty at Pennsylvania State University where he studied the impact of environmental pollutants on human health and developed undergraduate biotechnology courses and workforce training programs. He was instrumental in the establishment of Penn State’s Biotechnology Institute and Bioprocessing Resource Center programs. Rashid also directed the nationally recognized Summer Symposium in Molecular Biology at Penn State for 10 years.
He has published widely and has been invited to lecture and run biotechnology training programs by universities, institutes, and companies around the world. In 2010 he was awarded a five-year grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to train employees of vaccine manufacturing facilities from 11 countries in the latest advances in cell-based vaccine production. He succeeds Irene Berner, the founding director of the BETC, who helped design and oversee the build-out of the center. She has since returned to work in industry, but remains a member of the BETC's advisory board.
"I am honored and thrilled to be joining the wonderful team at WPI, and to be working in the hub of science, technology, and innovation that the Northeast represents," Rashid said. "I believe this is the right facility, in the right location, with the right team of people and partners. I see no limits to our success."
Funded in part by a grant from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, the BETC is located in the newest building at WPI's Gateway Park. The center has large- and small-scale bioprocessing areas, support labs, and classrooms, along with industry-standard process areas for equipment preparation, buffer and media preparation, fermentation and cell culture, product capture, purification, and analytics.
The BETC opened in the spring of 2013. Companies now associated with the BETC include AbbVie (formerly Abbott Laboratories), Biogen-Idec, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Pfizer, and Shire Human Genetic Therapies. Manufacturing leaders from these companies collaborate with the BETC team to develop customized curricula and programs that support their specific business needs. Along with WPI life sciences faculty members and BETC subject-matter experts, professionals from affiliated companies serve as instructors and mentors for students enrolled in non-proprietary programs at the BETC. In addition to the workforce development mission of the BETC, the center is also a resource for graduate and undergraduate education at WPI.
"Products of biotechnology are having a major and growing impact on human health and environmental sustainability," Flavin said. "At WPI we are supporting this important industry by educating and training the current and future generations of students and employees who will help establish, advance, and lead biotechnology companies throughout the region."