ALBANY — A new educational lab is designed to round out workforce training for an industry with a significant Capital Region presence and a major role in the development of new medicines.
The Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences on Tuesday debuted the Stack Family Center for Biopharmaceutical Education and Training, the first CBET in the nation created by a pharmacy school.
“CBET is a response to a rapidly growing biopharmaceutical industry and the need for an educated workforce,” college President Greg Dewey said at Tuesday morning’s ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Biopharma is the largest employer of research and development workers in the nation, he said, and the recipient of $300 billion in research funding. The largest application is in cancer drugs but there is significant overlap into the fields of vaccine and antibody research, he said.
All projections show continued growth, Dewey said, and the CBET will help address the need for people to do the work.
Biopharmaceutical products are manufactured in living organisms while pharmaceutical products are the result of chemical processes.
There is a significant presence of both in the Capital Region, including Regeneron, which has a large and growing production facility in East Greenbush, and Albany-based Curia, which is expanding its production facility in Rensselaer.
The Center for Economic Growth reported in late 2020 that there are a total of 40 FDA-registered drug establishments in the eight-county region, giving it the greatest concentration of active pharmaceutical ingredient manufacturers of any region in the state; the local workforce in late 2019 was nearly 3,200.
Curia, Regeneron, Boehringer Ingelheim and Bristol Myers Squibb are among the companies that will collaborate with the Stack Family Center for Biopharmaceutical Education and Training for workforce development.
The new CBET bears the name David and Christine Stack, who donated $1.5 million toward its creation. David Stack is an Albany College of Pharmacy alumnus and the CEO of Pacira Pharmaceuticals.
The Borisenok Family Foundation Upstream Laboratory bears the name of Walter and Michelle Borisenok, who donated $500,000 toward the bioprocessing lab at the CBET. Walt Borisenok was co-founder of Fortitech, a nutritional additive company in Schenectady that is now a division of DSM.
Stack said the new CBET will make the college stand out on the academic landscape and will broaden the experiences of its students.
“This is the first bioprocess center located in a pharmacy and health science setting,” Dewey said.
“Pharmacists are uniquely qualified to advance biopharmaceuticals,” he added, because they know the basic science of how drugs work, know the end-users and understand how critical formulation is.
The facility so far has cost $2.63 million to build and equip. It went into service in January.
The location — in the Zen building at the Albany NanoTech Complex on Fuller Road — was chosen for proximity to industry and academic partners including SUNY Polytechnic Institute, for the quality of the space, and for proximity to the airport.
The facility includes the latest industry-grade technologies and offers training programs customized to the needs of industry partners.
It is intended to help biopharmaceutical companies develop manufacturing processes and products faster and at less expense; train their workforces in all aspects of the process; translate academic research into commercial products, and give graduates a chance to build hands-on experience.