BIMS

Tag: biotech education

Seniors Gain Valuable Experience at Receptor Logic

by gwilson on Oct.20, 2010, under Students

receptor logic McMurry’s Biomedical Sciences Program is blessed to have a wonderful working relationship with Abilene’s premiere biotech company, Receptor Logic.  This company is rather new to Abilene but has profoundly changed the industrial landscape of the city.  Their pioneering work in the development of T-cell receptor mimics for therapeutic purposes places them in rarified air as one of the few places internationally where such technology is being developed and tested.  The close friendship between RL’s founder, Dr. Jon Weidanz, and McMurry’s BIMS faculty has enabled the placement of McMurry students at RL facilities in the Abilene Life Sciences Accelerator for capstone projects that provide valuable real-world experience.

lauren bump

This semester, McMurry has three students working with RL’s scientists.  Lauren Bump, recipient of the Danny Cooley Award as the outstanding BIMS student, is completing her Honors research in the lab.  Her research will culminate in an Honors thesis this written and defended in December.  In this, she will demonstrate the knowledge and skills picked up in BIMS and applied in T-cell work done at RL.

karlie dieterich1Karlie Dieterich is working at RL this fall to gain experience in immunological research as she applies to graduate programs in immunology.  She was encouraged to visit with Dr. Weidanz, an immunologist, to discuss strong programs and career directions.  The meeting resulted in her joining his lab as an undergraduate to give her some practical experience in the field.  As an Academic All-Conference athlete and top science student, she is living proof that the high level of achievement seen in top athletes often spills over to high achievement in all arenas of life.

malaney lopez1Malaney Lopez has extensive experience in the molecular lab, having been one of the prime resources as an undergraduate assistant for prepping and delivering molecular-based courses at McMurry last year.  She wanted to hone her skills and give back to RL by volunteering this year without any course credit expected.  Her love for molecular work is evident and her future in the field is assured.

In each case, the generosity of Receptor Logic and their commitment to contributing to the education of future biotech scientists is demonstrated.  We cannot begin to express our thanks to Receptor Logic and Dr. Weidanz for their contributions to the education of our students.

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BIMS Retreat Planned for Friday August 14th

by gwilson on Aug.11, 2009, under A Day in the Life...

bimsflyergraphicThis Friday, the faculty of the Biomedical Science Program will meet for a retreat to discuss our first year of operation and plan for the year ahead.  Attending will be Tom Benoit, Heidi DiFrancesca, and Gary Wilson from Biology, Paul Pyenta from Chemistry & Biochemistry, and Alicia Wyatt from Computer Science.  Larry Sharp is on vacation and will miss the meeting.

In reviewing the first year of operation, many milestones suggest a rich and profitable future for the program.  The first year saw over 20 students declare a BIMS major, mostly incoming freshmen interested in health professions or biotech.  The new courses were very well populated.  Growing publicity from the city fathers, The Development Corporation of Abilene, the TTU School of Pharmacy, and local biotech firm Receptor Logic helped to strengthen our position as the premiere life science/biotech training program in Abilene.  Heidi DiFrancesca and Hyunshun Shin from Chemistry & Biochemistry have begun collaborating on a project to develop and test new treatments for breast cancer.  And McMurry has seen the value in promoting these endeavors through funding for equipment and supplies to support the research-in-teaching approach used in BIMS.

I’m sure some time will be spent discussing the parallel development of the biotech infrastructure in Abilene, with a variety of support facilities (including the Abilene Life Sciences Foundation Research Accelerator facility) coming on line.  Add to this the decision by Abilene Independent School District to start a new engineering/computer science high school this fall and you have converging efforts that point to a bright future.  One of the tracks possible at the new high school is biotech engineering, which Dr. Jon Weidanz from TTUHSC-School of Pharmacy and I are promoting.

So what does the future hold?  That is the reason for our retreat!  I expect that we’ll see growing commitments to link our courses together and use our BIMS lab courses to conduct research.  We’ll see BIMS-focused proposals for the lab renovation competition being held on campus later this month.  We’ll see plans for research grants and programs to help high school science teachers learn and implement new methods, techniques, and equipment into their courses.  We’ll see more articulation agreements with professional schools for pharmacy, physical therapy, and who knows what else!   Clearly, BIMS is on the move and possesses the creative firepower to transform the sciences at McMurry.  Thoughtful planning and staged implementation are keys to making that happen.

Check back in a few weeks as I give an update on the event!

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Biotech Update

by gwilson on Jul.19, 2009, under A Day in the Life...

dsc04Week 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.

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