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Published July 22, 2010, 12:00 AM

Local vaccine industry needs more talent

The next step in making Fargo-Moorhead a global destination for the vaccine industry is to build a pool of talent, university and industry leaders say.

By: Amy Dalrymple, Forum News Service, INFORUM

The next step in making Fargo-Moorhead a global destination for the vaccine industry is to build a pool of talent, university and industry leaders say.

The Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corp. hosted a panel discussion Wednesday to learn more about initiatives that aim to attract vaccine and related biotechnology firms to the area.

The region’s focus on vaccines is becoming known around the country, said Michael Chambers, CEO of Aldevron, a Fargo-based company involved in vaccine research.

It was a “big thing” when North Dakota State University hired a former Pfizer biotechnologist and has attracted attention from people in the industry, Chambers said.

C. Satishchandran, who goes by Satish and is known around the world for his expertise in DNA vaccines, is now leading the new NDSU Center for Biopharmaceutical Research and Production.

“We want more Satishes to come here,” Chambers said. “We need more talent like that.”

Satishchandran, who has been at NDSU for three months, recommended that board members establish a small team to work on strategies to attract more talent.

“I certainly cannot do it all by myself,” he said.

The team could also work on finding more resources, he said.

The NDSU center has $2 million in state funding from the Center of Excellence program.

Satishchandran said it needs an additional $2 million to $4 million and continued support for about three to five years until it can become self-sustaining.

The NDSU center is on the verge of signing a collaboration agreement with Avianax, a Grand Forks-based company, he said.

NDSU is in discussions with a company in Pennsylvania and another in Massachusetts about other collaborations.

Meanwhile, NDSU is working with Concordia College and Minnesota State University Moorhead to develop a vaccinology minor through the Tri-College University.

Tri-College Provost Tim Flakoll said the goal is to have the first graduates of the program next spring. A vaccinology major may be developed in the future.

Panelists also said they’re excited about the presence of Sanford Health in Fargo because of the organization’s commitment to research.

Dennis Millirons, president of Sanford Medical Center Fargo, said officials are looking for a facility to house a research operation in Fargo.

The organization also is about to open up a search for a vice president for research, Millirons said.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Amy Dalrymple at (701) 241-5590

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