North Carolina Central University (NCCU) and the University of North Carolina at Pembroke (UNC Pembroke) are partnering on a two-week training program for people interested in jobs in biopharmaceutical manufacturing.

The two-week, hands-on short course will be offered for free from Jan. 22 to Feb. 2, 2024, for up to 12 participants. This new training is part of the Accelerate NC – Life Sciences Manufacturing initiative, funded by the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s Build Back Better Regional Challenge (BBBRC), which aims to build strong regional economies and support community-led economic development nationwide.

“We are pleased to kick off this first-in-a-series of regional bioprocessing training programs in North Carolina in response to the needs of a rapidly growing life sciences manufacturing industry,” said Dr. Ashley Batts Allen, associate dean of faculty and research in the College of Arts and Sciences at UNC Pembroke. “This is critical given the focus on developing job opportunities in the state’s economically challenged counties.”

The Accelerate NC – Life Sciences Manufacturing coalition, led by the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, received $25M in BBBRC funding to build equity while supporting economic development across the state.

NCCU, home to the Biomanufacturing Research Institute and Technology Enterprise (BRITE) and leader of the HBCU/HAIU Coalition, worked closely with UNC Pembroke for it to be the first university in the coalition to offer the bioprocessing training. The coalition also includes Elizabeth City State University, Fayetteville State University, Livingstone College, Saint Augustine’s University and Winston-Salem State University. Other coalition members are expected to launch similar trainings during 2024.

“Accelerate NC is all about helping underserved populations develop new skills to prepare for job opportunities in life sciences manufacturing that may have seemed unobtainable,” said William Smith, NCCU-BRITE director of development. “UNC Pembroke is taking a critical first step for the HBCU/HAIU coalition in building an equitable talent pipeline, with many more training opportunities to come.”

BBBRC funding helped purchase equipment needed to teach upstream and downstream bioprocessing as well as with provided the funding to conduct “train the trainer” events where faculty could become trainers.

UNC Pembroke training applicants must be 18 years of age or older and must have a high school diploma or GED. Before starting the short course, students must complete five online modules.

Upon completion of the two-week free course, students will earn several certifications in biomanufacturing, including an advanced certificate in biopharmaceutical manufacturing.

Training will be held at UNC Pembroke’s Biotechnology Research and Training Center, four miles southeast of campus at Carolina Commerce and Technology Park (COMtech).