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Where there’s a gap, there’s an opportunity. That’s what led Thomas Jefferson University (Jefferson) to create a facility unlike any other that will significantly advance the bioprocessing world.
In spring 2019, the Jefferson Institute for Bioprocessing opened the doors to its 25,000 sq. ft. fully flexible state-of-the-art facility in Spring House Innovation Park in Pennsylvania. A uniquely positioned education and training institute for biopharmaceutical processing, the Jefferson Institute for Bioprocessing has begun training industry professionals using single-use technology and leveraging the renowned NIBRT curriculum, based in Dublin.
Leading the charge as inaugural executive director is Dr. Shamlou, who was most recently the director of the Amgen Center for Bioprocessing at Keck Graduate Institute in Claremont, California.
What do you see as the largest supply chain risk in the industry?
Dr. Shamlou: Major advances in life sciences, new technologies, and data analytics are leading to exciting new discoveries that promise radically new therapeutics for treatment of many life-threatening and life-debilitating diseases, such as cancers and inflammatory diseases. A major bottleneck, however, in the successful translation of these discoveries to practical outcomes is the ability to attract, train, motivate, and retain the best workforce for the industry.
Because of the complex manufacturing process and lengthy regulatory approval process compared to traditional small-molecule drugs, biologics remain challenging to produce, with only a handful of centers throughout the world dedicated to training people to produce these potentially life-saving drugs. The Jefferson Institute for Bioprocessing will close that gap.
What makes the Jefferson Institute for Bioprocessing different from other biopharmaceutical training facilities?
Dr Shamlou: It’s the first—and only—specialized education and training institute for biopharmaceutical processing in North America that combines commercial single-use processing equipment with the internationally recognized National Institute for Bioprocessing Research and Training (NIBRT) curriculum.
A pilot-scale facility that simulates a GMP biomanufacturing work environment, it’s fully equipped with the most advanced single-use technologies to provide workforce training for all functional areas within biomanufacturing, from vial to API.
What is the Institute’s connection to Thomas Jefferson University?
Dr. Shamlou: Jefferson, with its established and strong presence in healthcare and nearly two centuries of experience in higher education, has made a significant investment in infrastructure, resources, and people to address this critical shortage of well-trained workforce. In a pioneering partnership in 2018 with NIBRT in Ireland, Jefferson created the Jefferson Institute for Bioprocessing.
In what ways can employers take advantage of what the Institute has to offer?
Dr. Shamlou: There are a few ways we currently engage with employers. First, they can encourage their scientists and engineers to sign up for our open enrollment courses. For every training, we get specific about who it’s right for, how much or how little experience is required, and what they can expect in terms of key learning outcomes. Alternatively, we invite employers to tell us what their needs are, and together we can work on a customized training to be delivered at our facility or at their location.
In addition, we leverage industry partnerships to make sure that we remain nimble and responsive to the growing and rapidly evolving needs of the biomanufacturing industry. Our partners currently include NIBRT, NIMBL, Montgomery County Community College, Bucks County Community College, GE Healthcare Life Sciences, Janssen, Merck, GSK, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Wuxi AppTec, West, and Shire. These partners share a common dedication to innovation and education in the bioprocessing space, and to that end, we are always open to collaborating with new partners.
What are you most excited about right now?
Dr. Shamlou: This is a facility that’s dedicated to raising awareness of job opportunities and career developments, improving talent retention, and creating a portfolio of innovative and cutting-edge tactile training programs for industry professionals working in biomanufacturing. And we’ve only just begun.
For more information about Jefferson Institute for Bioprocessing, visit: jefferson.edu/jib