By Jess Marvin
A competitive edge in the bio-medical field were afforded to Nevada State College and UNLV students who participated in the unprecedented training on the Capillary Electrophoresis equipment with biotech leader Beckman Coulter.
The four-day training seminar, which took place December 13-16th, was all part of vision of Interim Dean of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dr. Kuniyuki, who initially pursued funding for the endeavor in 2005. The biotechnology industry is one of the most promising sectors for continued growth and economic development and we’re fortunate to have an opportunity of leveraging supply and demand for a key requirement in their activities, said Dr. Kuniyuki. His persistence and foresight paid off, as 28 NSC and UNLV students were awarded a Beckman Coulter certificate of training upon completion of the PA800 Capillary Electrophoresis equipment on the final day of the training.
I applaud Dr. Kuniyuki in bringing this idea to fruition and doing something no other institution had the vision to do, said Dr. Thomas Horton, CE Program Manager at Beckman Coulter. Dr. Horton explained that while CE machines have been in use for about 20 years, there is still a critical gap between access and training available to undergraduate and graduate students seeking employment with biotech firms. The FDA requires capillary electrophoresis reports from biotechnology firms such as Genentech and Amgen, two of the industry leaders, but the supply of people with this type of training falls well short of demand, added Dr. Kuniyuki. Dr. Horton notes that familiarity with CE technology will put the student participants at a great advantage and will positively impact their future employment pursuits.
The importance of proficiency in the use of Capillary Electrophoresis is brought to light by the fact that the high-resolution molecular fingerprint it provides is regarded by the FDA as an essential diagnostic validation method. Every major pharmaceutical company seeking FDA approval must document their development process through the use of CE profiles.
NSC Biology major, Juana Villa, was among the participants in the 4-day training session. I’m fortunate to go to a college that not only cares about student success in the classroom, but in their career opportunities as well, said Villa. She plans to pursue an internship with the Nevada Cancer Institute and noted that being certified on the use of a CE will provide her an advantage against other applicants.
The CE training workshop was segmented across the four days to best enable a student in mastering operation of the equipment. Training progressed from day one with theory and CE application to focusing on actual hardware of the machine and delving into hands-on usage. The final two days of the workshop centered mostly on in-depth usage of the machine, which included running data samples and winding down with a complete review of the knowledge gained.
NSC and Beckman Coulter will continue to conduct this training twice per year, once in the winter break and once in the beginning of summer before the summer sessions. Throughout the duration of the five-year period, 188 students will be trained on the Beckman Coulter PA800 equipment, all made possible through support from the NSC portion of the NIH Grant Number P20 RR-016464 from the INBRE Program of the National Center for Research Resources in collaboration with Beckman Coulter. said Dr. Kuniyuki.
The students who participated in the training will have the opportunity to return for future workshops, assisting Beckman Coulter staff, and in essence will receive even more experience with the CE equipment.
We’ve been impressed with the NSC students and the college as well, for providing a venue for this opportunity, said Lisa Kang, Beckman Coulter workshop trainer. Based on the success of the NSC training program, Beckman Coulter is interested in developing a national program similar to what was initiated at NSC. Dr. Horton indicated there is currently no other college or university in the country that is providing students with this level of access/resources to this type of training. Students partaking in the Beckman Coulter CE workshop quickly realized that’s the case. Nisha Patel, a student with plans of becoming a pharmacist, pointed out that many students at the graduate school level do not even have this opportunity. Adding to the employment opportunities that may come about as result of their knowledge gained, fellow student Jason Koroghli added, I feel that I’ll stand out from other applicants because employers will see that I have training on specialized equipment, such as the CE. Dr. Kuniyuki shared that by investing in the identical Beckman Coulter capillary electrophoresis instrument used by these companies and providing certification training would give our students an opportunity to step into this demand. That was my vision in 2005 when I put together designs for our new LAS science labs.
On the final day of the CE workshop, Dr. Kuniyuki addressed the students in attendance. All of you have gone through something significant that you can use past these few days, he said. With the unprecedented opportunity of partaking in the Capillary Electrophoresis workshop at Nevada State College, many students to come will parlay their specialized skills into successful careers in the biomedical field.
By Jess Marvin