The National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals (NIIMBL) launches NIIMBL bioLOGIC, a pilot program designed to bring awareness to and foster interest in careers in the biopharmaceutical manufacturing industry. NIIMBL has partnered with the North Carolina Biotechnology Center and has selected Southern High School of Energy and Sustainability to pilot the 5-week program where students not only will learn and innovate but also will visualize themselves with a career in the industry.
NIIMBL Workforce Development Director, John Balchunas says, “Finding new opportunities to close the awareness gap and spark interest in biopharmaceutical manufacturing careers early in students’ academic years is a pathway that has shown much success across industries, and we are no exception.” Balchunas adds, “We want students across all communities to see themselves in an industry that is rapidly growing, lucrative, and essential to the health of people around the world.”
Southern High School of Energy and Sustainability in Durham was selected for the pilot because the region has experienced robust growth in recent years and the institution has a 95% minority enrollment rate. By implementing the program at Southern High School of Energy and Sustainability, Black and Latinx high school students will have access to the biopharmaceutical manufacturing industry within their own community. “It is of utmost importance that students in this community know and understand what careers in this industry are and what qualifications are needed to enter the field. It is equally important for them to see people who look like them to promote self-confidence,” says Jaquela Hill, a health science instructor at Southern High School.
NIIMBL bioLOGIC Program Coordinator, Logan Modlin adds, “In the last year alone, companies like Lilly, Merck, and AveXis have announced plans to create greater than 1,500 biopharma manufacturing jobs in Durham. As career prospects in manufacturing continue to grow in the region, it is imperative to ensure local students are aware of the opportunities and prepared to become a part of this amazing community.”
NIIMBL bioLOGIC was created in partnership with NextFlex as part of a $5 million funding grant from the Office of Naval Research (ONR). The grant’s purpose is to develop new education programs modeled after NextFlex’s award-winning project-based learning FlexFactor® program. Following a successful pilot launch and expansion in North Carolina, NIIMBL looks forward to deploying the program in other regional ecosystems nationwide.
The above-described efforts are sponsored by the Department of the Navy, Office of Naval Research under ONR award number N00014-20-1-2250. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Office of Naval Research.