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Bolstering African biopharmaceutical and vaccine manufacturing workforce training

Texas A&M University will address a critical workforce need in Africa
Closeup of vaccine bottle with syringe and needle for immunizati

The Texas A&M Health Center for Innovation in Advanced Development and Manufacturing (CIADM) will help Africa establish a vaccine manufacturing workforce. The center will train three cohorts of scientists from the Republic of South Africa in basic Current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) through an existing contract with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA). CIADM will partner with the National Center for Therapeutics Manufacturing (NCTM), a member of the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (TEES), to implement the program.

According to the U.S. Department of State, developing sustainable vaccine manufacturing is a priority for the Republic of South Africa. Vaccine manufacturing companies identified the need for a larger workforce with manufacturing experience to make vaccines in-country. In collaborating with NCTM, The Texas A&M University System will use BARDA funding to conduct the cGMP training needed to expand the manufacturing workforce in the Republic of South Africa.

For two years, a dedicated team of NCTM staff have been training workers on the biomanufacturing basics needed to produce the COVID-19 vaccine candidates.

“Texas A&M is again doing a great international public service,” said John Sharp, chancellor of The Texas A&M University System. “By collaborating with BARDA through our CIADM and TEES to train workers, our team is helping establish a new generation of manufacturing in South Africa.”

The CIADM is a Texas A&M System program established in 2012 by BARDA, part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, for just this kind of national emergency.

“When the CIADM was funded by BARDA, one of the key objectives was to ensure the next generation of biomanufacturing professionals,” said William Jay Treat, PhD, director of CIADM and chief manufacturing officer for Texas A&M Health. “This contract expands our program to address international training needs.”

“Our team is proud to represent Texas A&M in addressing the critical need to develop a biomanufacturing workforce in South Africa,” said Jenny Ligon, associate director for NCTM.

Participants will complete the NCTM Advanced Certificate in Biopharmaceutical Manufacturing program, consisting of nearly 100 online and hands-on training hours covering various aspects of cell culture and basic molecular biology, aseptic processes and microbiology, upstream and downstream processing of biological materials including viruses, monoclonal antibodies and other recombinant proteins, as well as industrial bioanalytical methods, Ligon stated.

“Since its creation, NCTM has been critical to developing training programs to meet our domestic manpower requirements, such as we saw with COVID, and will now apply that for international efforts,” Treat said.

The NCTM offers more than 25,000 square feet of dedicated instructional space housing traditional stainless and single-use systems for upstream and downstream bioprocessing representative of “vial-to-vial” industrial unit operations. The organization has contracted with more than 120 subject matter experts to build a catalog of training programs that serve industry, government and academia.

Celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2022, NCTM has trained more than 1,800 students, including new hires and employed professionals, undergraduate/graduate students, military veterans and others transitioning careers, and even high school students interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and biotech.

This project has been supported in whole or in part with federal funds from the Department of Health and Human Services; Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response; Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), under contract number HHSO100201200002I.

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