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September 6, 2012

Blinn College launches therapeutics manufacturing degree and certificate with TEEX

Program will train students and supply technicians for an expected boom in biopharmaceutical careers

A partnership between Blinn College, and the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) at the Texas A&M University System (TAMUS) has culminated in the launch of a new degree and certificate program in therapeutics manufacturing. The program promises to supply skilled technicians for an incoming wave of pharmaceutical and bio-manufacturing endeavors in Texas.

The initiative marks the first time a degree or certificate program from Blinn and TEEX was approved by state and national accrediting bodies from its launch. With prior approval from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, the program cleared its last hurdle in late June by garnering a nod to proceed from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Blinn’s Therapeutics Manufacturing Program will begin piloting its courses in the Spring of 2013—timing that paired well with recent news from the A&M System of a contract to house a national, class-leading biopharmaceutical center in Bryan/College Station, Texas. The Texas A&M Center for Innovation in Advanced Development and Manufacturing is a $285.6 million public-private partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The project is expected to usher in a new wave of pharmaceutical and manufacturing facilities, creating thousands of jobs throughout the Brazos Valley.

The contract will make Bryan/College Station one of the nation’s premier hubs for vaccine production and biosecurity. The Center will develop and manufacture vaccines to protect against pandemic influenza; provide therapies in the event of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats; produce biosecurity products through pre-clinical and clinical development and train the next generation of professionals in areas required to sustain this national capability.

“Blinn’s new degree program brings added visibility and recognition to Blinn College—and at an opportune moment in time,” said Dr. Ted Raspiller, president of Blinn’s Brazos County campuses. “We know our region will benefit greatly from an influx of public and private biotech entities, and they’re going to need well-trained technicians. Blinn graduates will stand ready to fill those roles and help advance the pace by which scientific remedies, advancements and discoveries are made.”

Blinn’s new program was developed under the leadership of Dr. Robert Brick, vice president of applied sciences and workforce education. To create the program, Blinn teamed with TEEX’s technical training specialists, a partnership certain to have aided the program’s smooth accreditation process.

“This partnership with Blinn will provide our students with a rapid and seamless transition into the Therapeutics Manufacturing Workforce and help the community to create a world class environment for the Biotechnology Industry,” said Gary Sera, TEEX Agency CEO.
The College will offer different options for students seeking careers in therapeutics manufacturing. The options include:

  • A certificate—certified students with additional workforce experience will be qualified for entry-level technician positions.
  • An associate degree—offering additional training in manufacturing processes and cell culturing, which may qualify graduates for more advanced technical positions.

“There’s a very particular protocol required in pharmaceutical manufacturing, and we have to train our technicians very carefully in how to follow these exact protocols,” Brick said. “It’s a very demanding environment.”

The courses will be taught at Texas A&M University’s National Center for Therapeutic Manufacturing and the Texas A&M Health Science Center, where some of Blinn’s Allied Health programs already reside.