A program aimed at building the biopharmaceutical workforce has started this week at the University of North Carolina Wilmington in partnership with Alcami Corp., and the effort just received a major boost.
Alcami, a drug development and manufacturing company, and UNCW announced Thursday that they have been awarded an educational grant from the National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals (NIIMBL), an organization comprised of companies, educational institutions, nonprofit groups and state governments dedicated to accelerating biopharmaceutical manufacturing innovation, developing industry standards and educating and training a pipeline of skilled workers for the field’s well-paying jobs, a news release stated.
The grant will fund the UNCW program “Partnership for Workforce Development in the Biopharmaceutical Industry,” co-developed and taught by Alcami subject matter experts, a news release stated. The $1.12 million project is funded through a $400,000 NIIMBL award in combination with additional support from project participants, according to the release.
The program is a comprehensive laboratory, lecture and internship series approved by NIIMBL’s Project Call 1.0, which solicits projects to address biomanufacturing technology and workforce development issues.
NIIMBL’s governing committee chose the Alcami-UNCW proposal "for its thorough, well-qualified, and innovative approach to workforce development," the release stated.
“We are thrilled to build on the successes of our academic partnership with UNCW and implement the next phase of specialized, practical, and scalable curricula to North Carolina students,” said Stephan Kutzer, Alcami CEO, president and chairman, in the announcement. “Alcami and UNCW are together advancing the local employment pipeline, with a workforce already trained in biopharmaceutical processes and protocols. Our joint efforts will feed both regional and industry growth, and bring safe drugs to market faster as a byproduct.”
UNCW Chancellor Jose Sartarelli said in the release that the partnership will enable Alcami and the university "to contribute to the continued growth of the region’s pharmaceutical and life sciences cluster. This NIIMBL grant will enable us to enhance the workforce in this large and growing industry and brighten the future for individuals, for our region, and for our state.”
Alcami, which has moved its headquarters to Durham from Wilmington but still has about 400 of its 1,000 employees in Wilmington and UNCW, started an academic partnership in July 2016 with two courses customized to prepare students for careers in pharmaceutical sciences, the release stated.
The first course, “Pharmaceutical Drug Development and Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) of Medicinal Products for Human and Veterinary Use,” provided students with an overview of the drug development process from concept to commercialization, focusing on current good manufacturing practices (cGMP), according to the release.
A second laboratory-based course taught at UNCW’s biotechnology center (MARBIONC), “Current Good Pharmaceutical Quality Control Laboratory Practice,” focused on the application of cGMPs in a drug development and testing laboratory. UNCW students began “Partnership for Workforce Development in the Biopharmaceutical Industry” on Aug. 28.
According to the announcement, Cape Fear and Brunswick Community Colleges are also active participants and are recommending students and providing support for the program.