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North Carolina Tabs $64.5 Million for Bioprocessing Training, Education

NEW YORK, Aug. 19 (GenomeWeb News) -- Two North Carolina universities and the state community colleges will share $64.5 million in funds to create a worker-training program in biomanufacturing and bioprocessing, organizations in the state announced last week.

Of these funds $60 million will come from Golden LEAF (Long-term Economic Advancement Foundation), a North Carolina organization set up to disburse an expected  $2.3 billion in total funds from tobacco settlements. The North Carolina Biotechnology Center has pledged to kick in another $4.5 million from industry.


North Carolina State University will receive $36 million to construct and staff a bioprocessing training factory; North Carolina Central University in Durham will receive $19.1 million to establish a undergraduate and graduate curriculum in bioinformatics and biomedicine; and the state's community colleges will receive $9.4 million to establish worker training classes that will feed the NC State factory.


The funding is seen as a strategic economic development investment, creating a highly-trained pool of workers to attract more pharmaceutical and biotechnology firms to a state that already claims over 150 of these firms already.


Bioprocessing and manufacturing -- fermentation, purification and separation -- is at the heart of manufacturing biologically-based products for use in pharmaceutical and biotechnology processes. It consists of upstream processing - the culturing of cells and microorganisms - and downstream - the separation and refinement of bioproducts for end use.


However, it is also an evolving multidisciplinary field that combines bioinformatics, metabolic engineering, and high-throughput combinatorial biosynthesis and microsystems engineering. For the microarray industry, for instance, bioprocessing may mean the in vitro fabrication and manipulation of single-and multi-enzyme systems on a biochip in a step to achieving the vision of engineering metabolic pathways at the microscale, according to conference presentation by Jonathan Dordick, the chairman of chemical engineering department at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

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