A coalition comprising six Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), along with the state’s sole Historically American Indian University (HAIU), has been established to enhance accessibility to the biopharmaceutical industry, according to WUNC. North Carolina Central University, a public HBCU, leads the HBCU/HAIU Coalition, consisting of regional hubs across North Carolina focused on preparing individuals for entry-level roles in biopharmaceutical manufacturing.
This initiative is part of a larger collaboration called the Accelerate NC-Life Sciences Manufacturing Coalition, which received a $25 million federal grant to promote diversity within the state’s medical manufacturing sector. A portion of this funding is allocated to the HBCU/HAIU coalition, launching its inaugural regional hub at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke, the designated HAIU of the coalition.
William Smith, the Director of Development at NC Central’s Biomanufacturing Research Institute and Technology Enterprise (BRITE), expressed the coalition’s commitment to assisting underserved populations in acquiring skills for opportunities in life sciences manufacturing. The program, led by NC Central-trained instructors, offers 80 hours of in-person bioprocessing courses covering topics such as working in a sterile environment, upstream/downstream processing, and equipment operation.
UNC-Pembroke’s program is open and free for both college students and community members, aiming to enhance accessibility, particularly in rural areas like Pembroke. Despite challenges in attracting industry partners to rural regions, the coalition hopes that by training a skilled workforce, it will incentivize industry partners to expand into these areas.
Ashley Allen, Associate Dean, acknowledges the significant demand for individuals with bioprocessing expertise in the pharmaceutical industry. The program’s unique approach allows participants to complete online modules and then attend a two-week class, making them eligible for entry-level positions at various companies. The program kicks off on January 22 and extends until February 2, with additional summer trainings planned. Information about UNC-Pembroke’s program and registration can be found on their website.
The HBCU/HAIU Coalition plans to establish hubs at Elizabeth City State University, Fayetteville State University, Livingstone College, Saint Augustine’s University, and Winston-Salem State University, all of which will initiate bioprocessing trainings later in 2024.