With new biologic therapies turning acute and debilitating illnesses like rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes and cancer into manageable chronic diseases and sometimes cures, biologics are rapidly gaining momentum throughout the world.
And yet because of the exquisitely complex manufacturing process and lengthier 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.
Jefferson (Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University) today announced it intends to close that gap by creating the Jefferson Institute for Bioprocessing, the first—and only—education and training institute for biopharmaceutical processing in North America to be established in partnership with the internationally recognized National Institute for Bioprocessing Research and Training (NIBRT).
Leaders from Jefferson and NIBRT, which is based in Dublin, Ireland, announced this unprecedented global partnership today at the Biopharma Ambition Conference at Dublin Castle, with Irish Minister for Health Simon Harris, TD in attendance, with the goal of helping bring more biologic drugs to market.
Stephen K. Klasko, MD, MBA, president and CEO of Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health, said the partnership with NIBRT perfectly captures the philosophy of what defines a Jefferson education—making sure students are prepared to lead in tomorrow’s world.
“Jefferson is built on anticipating the emerging professions that will be commonplace 10 years from now and educating students in those disciplines today,” Klasko said. “In an increasingly global world, Jefferson and NIBRT are leveraging our respective strengths and creatively partnering to bring unprecedented value to students and industry.”
“There is a significant demand for global talent to support the growth of the biopharmaceutical manufacturing industry and our relationship with Jefferson will help address this demand throughout the United States,” said Dominic Carolan, NIBRT CEO. “The combination of engineering expertise from Philadelphia University and biosciences experience from Thomas Jefferson University, now merged into Jefferson, made this an especially attractive partnership option for NIBRT. The NIBRT and Jefferson teams have been working closely over the last 18 months and we look forward to the successful launch of this groundbreaking project.”
NIBRT, internationally recognized for its excellence in bioprocessing research and training, serves about 4,000 industry professionals worldwide at its headquarters in Dublin, including many from the U.S. The Jefferson Institute for Bioprocessing will leverage the renowned NIBRT curriculum to provide a premier U.S.-based option with a significant potential market that includes 900-plus pharmaceutical-related companies in the Northeast U.S. The Institute will also utilize the latest single-use engineering technology pioneered by General Electric.
When fully operational, the Jefferson Institute for Bioprocessing is expected to serve 2,500 people annually, including working with the pharmaceutical companies, providing workforce training through community college partnerships and bioprocessing certifications through regional university partnerships. Importantly, the Institute will facilitate enrollment of 70 additional Jefferson students in bioprocessing engineering, from undergraduate through PhD levels.
Biologic pharmaceuticals are manufactured in a living system such as a microorganism, plant or animal cell, often utilizing recombinant DNA technology. The development of biologic pharmaceuticals is growing rapidly, representing a major shift in the industry from traditional chemical synthesis techniques. More than 40 percent of therapeutics currently in research and development are biopharmaceuticals.
Jefferson is in the process of identifying a site for the more than 20,000-square-foot facility in the Philadelphia region and expects the first training opportunities for industry professionals to be offered in mid-2019.