Veterans suited to pharma says Texas A&M

By Gareth Macdonald

- Last updated on GMT

Turns out Edwin Starr was wrong - Veterans suited to biopharma says Texas A&M
Turns out Edwin Starr was wrong - Veterans suited to biopharma says Texas A&M

Related tags Pharmacology

Army training is ideal preparation for a biopharma career according to the US National Center for Therapeutics Manufacturing, which is seeking former military personnel interested in learning about bioprocessing.

When Novo Nordisk announced its intention to build its first active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) plant outside its native Denmark it chose a site in Clayton, North Carolina​ next to a facility where its Flexpen and FlexTouch products are made.

During media coverage that surrounded the announcement, Novo’s head of US operations Jesper Hoiland said that around a fifth of the staff employed at the existing site are ex-military, which he said made them “particularly suited to the work​.”

A few days later, Texas A&M announced it was looking for ex-military personnel to retain in the field of pharmaceutical manufacturing, also suggesting that their military training was a good foundation for a career in the drug sector.

Jenny Ligon, assistant director of the NCTM told us: “Veterans’ strong sense of responsibility, professionalism and dedication to accomplishing a mission, as well as their ability to work in challenging and demanding environments…will make them ideal additions to the biotech industry​.” 

In depth bioprocessing training 

Before being a journalist, worked in a pharma lab and – to be honest – the most dangerous thing I did was accidently set fire to an azowipe. While this was a little alarming, it was some way short of dealing with an improvised explosive device.

But it is veterans’ ability to take on complex technical instructions rather than, for example, their skills in searching abandoned labs for non-existent (it turns out​) weapons of mass destruction that make them suited to a career in the drug industry.

Ligon told us the training “is comprised of six asynchronous eLearning courses and 3 instructor-led courses” ​adding that “It’s very in-depth, but trains them in the skills to be manufacturing operators in upstream and downstream bioprocessing, as well as quality and facility roles.​”

The idea is to help former service people find new careers and to “protect our country in a new way as biomanufacturing technicians and process development and quality specialists in facilities that are the nation’s first line of defense from biothreats​” according to Ligon.

The course is funded by a grant from the Wagner-Peyser fund and expects to help 20 veterans find jobs in the biopharmaceutical sector.

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