Dr. Gary Gilleskie is executive director of the Biomanufacturing Training and Education Center (BTEC), part of the College of Engineering and located on NC State’s Centennial Campus.
What is biomanufacturing?
Biomanufacturing is the production of materials using biological systems. At BTEC, our product focus is biopharmaceuticals, which are medicines manufactured with the help of living organisms rather than by traditional chemical synthesis. Most of the top-selling medicines in the world today are biopharmaceuticals. Humira® is an example — it’s an antibody produced in genetically engineered Chinese Hamster Ovary (CHO) cells and used to treat diseases such as arthritis and Crohn’s disease. It’s the largest-selling drug in the world.
What does BTEC do?
As our name suggests, BTEC focuses on training and education related to biopharmaceutical manufacturing. We offer educational programs for NC State students as well as a very popular short-course program for professionals. We also work closely with industry and academic clients on a variety of biomanufacturing-related projects through our bioprocess and analytical services program. And we have a growing research program, including a number of projects with the National Institute for Innovation in Biopharmaceutical Manufacturing (NIIMBL) and a new program called Accelerated Innovation in Manufacturing Biologics (AIM-Bio) supported by the Novo Nordisk Foundation. These activities support our mission to develop skilled professionals for the biomanufacturing industry and to establish and conduct programs aimed at advancing bioprocessing.
What degree programs does BTEC offer for undergraduate and graduate students?
Undergraduates can earn a minor in biomanufacturing at BTEC. We get students from a variety of departments, including Chemical Engineering, Food Science, Biochemistry, and Industrial and Systems Engineering. BTEC also has two programs that lead to a master’s in biomanufacturing. About 350 students take our courses annually. We often hear from our industry partners that our students hit the ground running when they start a job.
What about professional development programs for those who are already working in the industry?
As part of BTEC’s industry training program, we offer more than 15 courses on various biomanufacturing topics. About 500 professionals attend our short courses annually. They come from biopharmaceutical manufacturers, vendors who sell equipment to the industry and the U.S. FDA. We also offer customized training, which tailors course content to an organization’s needs. What makes our courses unique is their focus on hands-on experience.
How big is the biomanufacturing industry in the Research Triangle region and across North Carolina?
It’s large and growing. The NC Biotech Center estimates 5,000 new jobs in biopharmaceuticals will be created in NC in the next five years, which means our students are in demand. Numerous biopharmaceutical companies located in the Research Triangle produce a variety of biopharmaceuticals including protein therapeutics, vaccines, gene therapies and cell therapies. Recent growth in the number of companies focusing on cell and gene therapies is particularly significant because these therapies hold immense promise for impacting human health.
What kinds of services does BTEC offer for corporate clients?
Broadly speaking, we offer services in biomanufacturing process and technology development and analytical testing. BTEC’s scientists and staff have industrial experience with some of the largest biotech companies in the world, and our labs are equipped with $18 million worth of industry-standard equipment.