"This is not a short-term solution. This is a long-term solution for Texas and its skilled workforce needs as well as UH and its long-range goals of becoming a Tier One research university," Iyer said.
In addition the workforce commission's support, which now stands at $1.7 million, the National Science Foundation also has awarded it $121,880 to CLiST.
Biotechnology has been characterized as a high-growth industry by the U.S. Department of Labor, which also has said that recruitment, retention, training and education are key challenges for the industry.
CLiST works to provide solutions to these challenges. The center's program prepares students to work as scientists, research assistants, project managers and other highly skilled professionals. Iyer said a strong foundation in science can be applied to a variety of lucrative and rewarding professions.
Additionally, the center provides access to space, expertise and equipment for local biotech companies and serves as a platform for innovation and institutional collaboration.
The program has experienced remarkable growth. Its undergraduate program had its first two students in 2009 but has grown to a current 80 declared majors. So far, the program has about seven graduates, including Thamma.
"I think the program's strongest asset is that it integrates both research in the laboratory and the regulatory aspects of the biotech industry," said Thamma, who works at SeqWright.
Thamma works closely with scientists and project managers to provide DNA sequencing services to various organizations that may be performing clinical trials or just conducting research, from next-generation DNA sequencing to genomics at the FDA level.
"What I like about my job is that I am proactively contributing to making new discoveries in DNA research to help scientists study cancer and genetic disorders and potentially develop treatments," he said. "I definitely plan on enhancing my c
|Contact: Laura Tolley|
University of Houston