November 28

UMass Lowell Launches Workforce Development Program in Biomanufacturing

BioP2P Staff

The Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Massachusetts Lowell is launching a biomanufacturing workforce development program that is geared toward undergraduates.

The initiative, led by Professor Sanjeev Manohar, was developed in partnership with industry and is supported with a two-year, $730,000 grant from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center.

“Our goal is to expand the students’ hands-on laboratory experience in biomanufacturing to accelerate the supply of new, highly skilled industry professionals,” Manohar said.

Though UMass Lowell has provided the biomanufacturing industry with trained undergraduate and graduate students for more than 25 years, the focus of their training has been on the theory of cell/microbe cultivation at industrial scale, the theory of isolation and purification of drug substances, biopharmaceutical regulatory compliance, and analytical development. Manohar said missing from the curriculum has been fundamental, hands-on lab experience to complement the current lecture courses offered in biomanufacturing.

Based on the feedback the department received from key constituents, including local industry, Manohar said they have identified three key but unmet lab skills in life sciences: cell cultivation, cell separation, and cell analysis.

Massachusetts-based industry partners collaborating on the project include MilliporeSigma, National Resilience, and Nova Biomedical. The companies will provide input and review of the curriculum design and participate in the formation of a biomanufacturing advisory board, as well as supplying guest speakers for student seminars.

MilliporeSigma will also provide process equipment such as protein purification systems and bioreactor controllers while Nova Biomedical will provide analytical reagents and technical support for the state-of-the-art BioProfile FLEX2 automated cell culture analyzer currently housed in the Massachusetts Biomanufacturing Center’s lab.

The lab training program will also be offered for the Chemical Engineering Concentration in Bioengineering and the Graduate Certificate in Biotechnology and Bioprocessing. In addition, the program plans to establish biomanufacturing internships and co-ops to help increase recruitment of new students.

College students are not the only ones who stand to benefit from acquiring new lab experience: Manohar notes that the total number of high school students enrolled in Lowell, Lawrence, Methuen, Wilmington, Andover and several other nearby communities is approximately 80,000, and roughly half of them stated that they are interested in either “science and engineering” or “science and engineering-related” fields.

“This is an opportunity for UMass Lowell to make early inroads into this student body and motivate them toward a career in life sciences,” Manohar said. “The one-year certificate program proposed in this initiative is a promising entry point for them.”

Read the full release here.


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