Amgen donates $30,000 drug purification device to URI’s Biotechnology Manufacturing Laboratory

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. — January 17, 2006 — Amgen, Rhode Island’s largest biotechnology company, recently donated a $30,000 drug purification device to the University of Rhode Island’s Biotechnology Manufacturing Laboratory at its Feinstein Providence Campus. The equipment, called a Beckman-Coulter Array 360 Protein and Special Chemistry Analyzer, will be used to train students in protein separation and purification techniques used in biopharmaceutical manufacturing.

“We are grateful to Amgen for this generous donation, and for the support they have provided us through the years,” said John O’Leary, director of special programs at URI’s Feinstein Providence Campus. “It will provide our students with unique opportunities to gain hands-on experience using state-of-the-art equipment in use today in the industry. Were it not for the support of companies like Amgen, our Biotech Manufacturing Program would not have achieved the success it has so quickly.”

Launched in 2003, the Biotech Manufacturing program is a key element in an economic development strategy aimed at providing trained workers to the state’s growing biotechnology industry. The program’s laboratory is where students learn the fundamental principles of pharmaceutical production and manufacturing. The facility houses a wide range of state-of-the-art technologies, including bioreactors used to grow cell cultures in quantity, a shaking incubator to aerate liquid cultures, a centrifuge to aid in collecting cultured cells, and other tools of molecular biology.

At the end of their first year of study, students trained in this sophisticated lab will understand many of the technologies employed by the biotech industry. After their freshman year and a summer internship with a biotechnology company, most students in the program will likely go to work full-time in the industry and complete their bachelor’s degrees as part-time students.

Amgen helped establish the URI program with a $25,000 donation in 2003 and has hired several students as interns and biomanufacturing associates. The Amgen Foundation has also supported URI’s biotechnology initiative by providing a $98,000 grant to Associate Professor Albert Kausch to fund an introductory biotechnology class that is open to the public for free and which is broadcast on public access television. Beginning this month, the course will also be offered online.

Photo:(L-r) John O’Leary, URI director of special programs, Greg Paquette, URI director of biotechnology programs, and URI students Sean McKee of East Greenwich and Takiyah Prince (seated) of Providence pose with a drug purification device donated by Amgen to URI’s Biotechnology Manufacturing Program. (URI News Bureau photo by Michael Salerno)