Week before last I met with Dr. Jon Weidanz to discuss biotech issues in Abilene and ways our BIMS program can contribute to building a biotech workforce in west Texas. These meetings occur with relative frequency, as he and I share a vision for how McMurry BIMS students can become biotech leaders for America’s future.
Here are some things we see in Abilene’s future for biotech:
1. Growth in biotech education. Jon and I are working on ways to build a biotech-capable workforce in Abilene to support biotech growth. McMurry’s Biomedical Science students remain one of the most talked about resources for the future in this regard. The industry is hungry for BS in BIMS-prepared workers to hire at starting salaries of over $50K. Other avenues we hope to see fall into place soon:
- biotech opportunities for students in Abilene schools, particularly in the New Tech High School starting this fall.
- biotech certification programs at Cisco College, with an eye toward articulation with the BIMS program at McMurry.
- presence of a PhD in Pharmaceutical Science degree program through TTU’s School of Pharmacy in Abilene. There is an educational superhighway being developed to help provide skilled workers for biotech with exit ramps after high school, community college certification programs, four-year university degree programs, and graduate programs, all here in Abilene.
2. Growth in biotech opportunities. Jon and I discussed internships for students at Receptor Logic, and the myriad of other opportunities and developments on the horizon:
- growth in the equipment and infrastructure for research in Abilene, due to the Development Corporation of Abilene’s investment in the biotech accelerator facility set to open in December.
- the likelihood of more biotech firms arriving in town within the next year or so to join Receptor Logic in the accelerator and bring additional research and development and production to Abilene.
- formation of the Abilene Life Sciences Foundation to spearhead and coordinate local research efforts and to oversee the accelerator operations.
- ongoing support at McMurry for biotech program development. This summer several additional vital pieces of equipment are being purchased to grow the research capacity for BIMS program faculty and students, and to offer for use by others in the shared endeavor.
These developments confirm what we’ve known for a long time – the BIMS program was one that was needed and whose time had come. Our students will help write the pages of Abilene’s future.