New San Jacinto College Biotech Center at Generation Park

By David Taylor
Managing Editor

When there’s a need, they fill it. San Jacinto College, the exclusive provider of the National Institute for Bioprocessing Research and Training (NIBRT) for the southern part of the United States, broke ground on a new Center for Biotechnology at the Generation Park campus on Friday, Jan. 26. The state-of-the-art facility, in collaboration with McCord Development, Inc., will provide comprehensive, hands-on training with realistic good manufacturing practices (GMP) simulated environments.

“The Center and the overall components of the Biotechnology program will play a vital role in meeting the growing demand for skilled professionals in the biotechnology sector,” said Dr. Brenda Hellyer, Chancellor, San Jacinto College. “We are committed to equipping our students with the skills and knowledge necessary for success in the dynamic biopharmaceutical industry. Our vision is to not only meet the workforce needs of today but will also shape the future of biotechnology education and training in our region.”

According to SJC, the Center will offer an associate of applied science degree in biomanufacturing technology, and shorter credentials for post-graduates, to meet workforce needs.

“We are thrilled to have San Jacinto’s new Center for Biotechnology at Generation Park, reinforcing our commitment to fostering Houston’s life science ecosystem. The world-renowned NIBRT program will provide quality workforce training in the pharmaceutical manufacturing space, strengthening Houston’s ability to attract and retain world-class companies in the industry,” said Ryan McCord, President of McCord Development.

At approximately 10,000 square feet, the San Jacinto College Biomanufacturing Training Program facility will house the latest industry equipment, including biosafety cabinets, bench-top bioreactors and wave bioreactors, automated viability and cell counters, filter integrity tester, and more. The resources of the Biotechnology offerings at San Jacinto College will continue to expand to meet the needs of this thriving industry.

“As we unveil the Biomanufacturing Training Program, we are taking a significant step toward meeting the growing demands of the biotechnology sector right now,” said Dr. Christopher Wild, executive director, San Jacinto College Center for Biotechnology. “This program is designed to provide a seamless entry into the field for new professionals, with a focus on practical experience and exposure to industry practices.”

Wild, who has been at San Jac for 15 years, was tapped to lead the Biotechnology Center in October last year and in March will transition to the job full time.

“Our degree has already been approved by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board as well as our regional accreditors,” he said. The program will also offer customized corporate training including onboarding training for industry partners.

“It’s designed by industry, for industry,” he said.

The bio manufacturing facility is dedicated to training while academic classes will be held in the current building at Generation Park.

“It will house the bio manufacturing processes with a cell culture lab, prep lab, upstream training lab, downstream training lab, global fill finish training lab, and a cleanroom for training purposes,” Wild explained. The facility will mimic industry standards providing a smooth transition into the workplace.

Many of the faculty traveled to Dublin to study at the world-renowned NIBRT facility. The San Jac facility will be the only one in 11 contiguous states in the global partners program with NIBRT.

“We now have access to their entire curriculum, and their expertise, facility design, equipment, requirements for training programs, all of our faculty go to Dublin to train,” he said.

The first cohort of 30 students at The Center for Biotechnology will begin in August 2025. The facility is scheduled for completion in the first quarter of 2025 and once in full operation, will graduate approximately 120 students per year over two sites including the South Campus on the 288 corridor.

“The profile of a student we’re seeking is like that of a process technology student. They are inclined to work with their hands, have some technical knowhow, and they’re hungry for a career that is sustainable,” Wild said.

The vision is a 50-acre bio manufacturing campus in which biopharma companies will reside and be supported by the Center for Biotechnology.

Average starting pay, according to Wild, would be in the $50k to $55k range, with advancement.

To learn more about the biotechnology program at San Jacinto College, visit https://www.sanjac.edu/programs/areas-of-study/stem/biomanufacturing-tech/

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