A&M Officials: One-of-a-Kind Training Center Could Save Lives, Jobs in U.S.

By  | 

COLLEGE STATION, Texas Tucked away in a quiet corner of the Texas A&M University campus, a group students are learning the fine art of manufacturing life-saving biologic drugs.

It's the National Center for Therapeutics Manufacturing, located just off Discovery Drive near University. And students there are trained in Biopharmaceutical Manufacturing. A term easier to understand that it is to say.

It's the manufacturing of complex drugs derived from proteins and DNA, such as flu vaccines or insulin.

Rachel Wright, an A&M graduate, received her masters of science in biochemistry degree from Vanderbilt University in Tennessee. She's now a student at the center, and she said she's found her niche with the program.

"I've always been interested in how things work," said Wright. "And I've always liked to work with my hands."

The course is intensive, but you don't have to be an A&M student to sign up.

"You could be somebody from the northeast coast, or California, and you could get some professional development here," said Jenny Ligon, Assistant Director of the NCTM. "You could be somebody who lost your job at your current company, and you're looking to do a career transfer. You could come here and get some technical training and help retool your skills."

The NCTM is a one-of-a-kind training center that shares about 150,000 square feet with a real-world pharmaceutical manufacturing company, Kalon Biotherapeutics.

NCTM Director, Dr. Michael Pishko said they're creating a ready-made workforce that will help keep jobs in the U.S.

"We don't want to see these jobs go offshore," said Pishko. "We don't want to see them go to China or India or Brazil. We want to be able to retain this kind of manufacturing capacity within the U.S."

Ligon said the center focuses on younger students as well.

"We have a program called Bio Force," said Ligon. "It's our summer camp. This is where high school students can learn about the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry, and start to get some of the training under their belt."

Ligon said the program is a great way for people to make a medical difference, without all the years of training it takes to become a doctor.

"You can make a huge impact in someone's life by making the vaccine that's going to cure their cancer, or stop them from getting cancer," said Ligon. "So, that's the cool thing about NCTM is that you can really impact someone's health and life by manufacturing the medications that they consume."

For more information on the NCTM, click on the link added to this story.