FAU and Sancilio & Company to Train Skilled Workforce

Scientists from Sancilio & Company, Inc., a local biotech company, have joined forces with FAU’s Center for Molecular Biology and Biotechnology to train a biopharmaceutical and drug development workforce.

By gisele galoustian | 9/29/2016

On the heels of its 20-year anniversary, Florida Atlantic University’s Center for Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (CMBB) on the John D. MacArthur Campus in Jupiter, continues to fulfill its mission in building a true biotechnology hub in the region. The Center has established the University’s first-of-its-kind university/industry partnership to train highly skilled workers in biopharmaceuticals and drug development.

Scientists from Riviera Beach based Sancilio & Company, Inc., a local biotech company founded in 2005, have begun teaching a graduate level course on FAU’s Jupiter campus titled, “Drug Development and Regulation,” to help meet their unique workforce needs. With 28 current job openings, the company typically has to search outside the state to fill these positions. Students who participate in the course attend lectures by Sancilio & Company scientists and also receive hands-on laboratory experience learning how to prepare and analyze pharmaceutical solutions. The course also provides them with industry knowledge and background on FDA regulations.

Students also will have the opportunity to apply for high-paying positions at the company. Sancilio & Company is focused on the development of novel therapies for application in the emerging field of lipidomics, the science related to the structure, function, interaction and movements of cellular lipids and their relationship to diseases. Lipid dysfunction and lipid disorders are linked to a number of diseases.

FAU’s CMBB was established in 1997 by Herbert Weissbach, Ph.D., distinguished research professor and associate director of the Center, to create a strong base in molecular biology, functional genomics and related fields. The interdisciplinary nature of the Center brings together scientists from FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Science and the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, Scripps Florida, Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience, as well as others. Weissbach and David Binninger, Ph.D., associate professor in FAU’s Department of Biological Sciences, have worked together to establish an undergraduate certificate program and a Professional Science Master’s Program (PSM) in biotechnology, that provide courses in biotechnology, cancer biology, molecular and cell biology, molecular genetics, molecular virology, and neuroscience among others. FAU’s College of Business also participates in offering business courses as part of the PSM Program.

“A primary objective of our Center for Molecular Biology and Biotechnology is to serve as a magnet to attract biotech companies to southeast Florida and to provide them with access to state-of-the-art equipment, scientists, and students to greatly enhance their research efforts,” said Daniel C. Flynn, Ph.D., FAU’s vice president for research. 

FAU’s Jupiter campus is home to the CMBB, the FAU Brain Institute, Scripps Florida and Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience, and is a thriving hub for the life sciences in this region. The close proximity of the facilities, multi-use equipment, and faculty and scientists with extensive experience in various disciplines provides important resources for both start-up companies and more established biotechnology companies locally.

“This is a major milestone in the advancement of our vision to create a biopharmaceutical hub in Palm Beach County,” said Frederick D. Sancilio, Ph.D., founder, president and CEO of Sancilio & Company, Inc. “Having FAU and Sancilio working together to align the University’s focus with the growth of pharmaceutical research in the county will create new high paying jobs and enormous opportunities.”  

FAU’s CMBB and Sancilio & Company plan to expand the joint program to include between three and four courses related to the biopharmaceutical industry.

“We are creating bridges with companies, other scientists and affiliate members of our Center for Molecular Biology and Biotechnology,” said Gregg Fields, Ph.D., director of FAU’s CMBB and chair of FAU’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. “These are win-win relationships that will ultimately help our students to become successful in this field and will help established, as well as emerging biotech companies, move to the next level.”