North Carolina A&T Launches Biotechnology Learning Center With Merck

A new initiative aimed at fostering talent in the biotechnology sector has been launched through a partnership between multinational pharmaceutical company Merck and research HBCU North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (N.C. A&T).

The Merck Biotechnology Learning Center, a 4,025 square-foot facility, offers advanced training and discovery opportunities for N.C. A&T students pursuing careers in biotechnology. An April 22 press release by Merck revealed that the center, equipped with cutting-edge biopharmaceutical manufacturing equipment, a process laboratory, and classroom space, is strategically located near Merck’s Durham and Wilson manufacturing sites.

The collaboration aims to strengthen academic programming and provide hands-on experience for students. Sanat Chattopadhyay, executive vice president and president of Merck Manufacturing Division, expressed enthusiasm for the project, stating, “We’re pleased to launch this new collaboration with an institution that precisely aligns to our company priorities to invest in the growth and delivery of innovative health solutions and strong values around diversity and inclusion.”

The partnership not only invests in the local community’s future but also supports broader bioeconomy initiatives across the state. It addresses the critical need for diversity in the biotechnology industry, where Black professionals remain underrepresented. According to a 2022 report by the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, Black employees only constituted 6% of the biotech workforce, despite their representation in society.

Dr. Tonya Smith-Jackson, provost and executive vice chancellor of academic affairs at N.C. A&T, highlighted the significance of the collaboration with Merck, describing it as “a union between academia and industry, and a commitment to excellence, innovation, and the advancement of scientific knowledge.”

The Merck Biotechnology Learning Center offers N.C. A&T students valuable insights into the biopharmaceutical industry, helping them envision potential career paths. Additionally, the facility provides vaccine manufacturing process training for both new and existing Merck employees, further strengthening the company’s workforce development efforts.

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