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UH Biotechnology program serving as host for NIIMBL
By
Alex Keimig
With funding from the National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals (NIIMBL), the biotechnology program at the University of Houston will host African American, Hispanic, Native American and other minority college students from across Texas and its neighboring states for the NIIMBL eXperience @UH in June 2024.
With funding from the National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals (NIIMBL), the biotechnology program at the University of Houston will host African American, Hispanic, Native American and other minority college students from across Texas and its neighboring states for the NIIMBL eXperience @UH in June 2024.

With funding from the National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals (NIIMBL), the biotechnology program at the University of Houston will host African American, Hispanic, Native American and other minority college students from across Texas and its neighboring states for the NIIMBL eXperience @UH in June 2024.

As a minority serving institution and NIIMBL member, UH is proud to be leading one of five NIIMBL eXperience locations across the United States. The week-long, all-expense-paid learning program is designed to introduce visiting students to the biotechnology program at UH and expose them to promising careers in biomanufacturing.

"Biomanufacturing is a multibillion-dollar industry that produces drugs for infectious diseases, different types of cancers, and neurological and immunological disorders such as multiple sclerosis, arthritis and lupus,” said Biotechnology professor Albert Flavier. “Biomanufactured enzymes are used as well in fuel, food, textile and many other industries. Houston is home to many biotechnology companies and biomanufacturing is rapidly growing here. It is the city's goal to be recognized as the third coast of biotechnology."

"With the NIIMBL eXperience @UH program, we will be reaching a population of students that matches the demographics of Houston and south-central US while aligning to program requirements,” said Engineering Technology Department Chair and Professor Fatima Merchant. “Texas has around 15 higher education institutions that are rural-serving, and many of their students will qualify to participate in the program.”

She added, “Another unique aspect of UH is that the students will have the opportunity to tour the Texas Medical Center (TMC). The TMC Innovation Center and the Johnson & Johnson Innovation Labs house many startup companies dedicated to pioneering medicines for the future. TMC hospitals also serve as pivotal research and clinical trial centers for testing investigational drugs.”

The program will help participating students gain appreciation for how diversity makes for a dynamic and productive working environment while investigating the variety of career paths and employment opportunities open to them in biomanufacturing.

While visiting several companies in the Greater Houston Area, students will network and engage with industry professionals and gain insights into their diverse roles and career trajectories. Experienced UH instructors will also provide hands-on training in the use of bioreactors for cell culture, and chromatography for protein purification.

"By going through this particular experience, we also hope that students will be encouraged to return to our program as graduate students," Merchant added.

The program, spanning June 3-7, 2024, will cover travel, food and lodging in one of the UH student dormitories in addition to offering a $1,000 stipend. Eligible applicants will be STEM majors completing their freshman or sophomore year of college leading up to the program period.

To learn more about the NIIMBL eXperience @UH and to apply by the deadline of March 1, 2024, visit https://niimbl.my.site.com/s/niimbl-experience.

This project was developed with an award from NIIMBL and financial assistance from the U.S. Department of Commerce, National Institute of Standards and Technology (70NANB21H086).

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