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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

Media Contact: Todd McLeish, 401- 874-7892

Governor Carcieri announces creation of
Biotech Manufacturing Lab at URI Providence

State of Rhode Island, Amgen to provide funding

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- March 18, 2003 -- Rhode Island Governor Donald Carcieri today launched a biotechnology initiative at the University of Rhode Island that will spur economic development, create jobs, and provide the state’s growing biotechnology industry with a much needed supply of trained workers.

Amgen, the state’s largest biotechnology company, and the state of Rhode Island through the Human Resource Investment Council have joined together in supporting Governor Carcieri’s initiative by helping to fund a Biotechnology Manufacturing Training Laboratory at URI’s Feinstein Providence Campus. Amgen today donated $25,000 and HRIC contributed $100,000. Governor Carcieri is working to secure additional funding for the lab.

"Rhode Island is fertile ground for biotech companies," said Carcieri. "It is my goal to ensure that we have the skilled workforce for this cutting-edge industry. That’s why I have proposed establishing a Biotechnology Manufacturing Training Lab. We need the private sector to help fulfill my vision for this state-of-the-art facility, and I am very pleased that Amgen is contributing $25,000 towards this effort."

"Institutions of higher education play a key role in economic development, and with the support of the governor I’m certain we can help position the state of Rhode Island as the place biotech companies will want to locate their businesses," said URI President Robert L. Carothers. "URI can help provide the industry with the research and development support and the trained employees they need to thrive."

The first stage of the University’s initiative is the creation of an undergraduate Biotechnology Manufacturing Program in Providence, which will start this fall. "The program is a critical part of the workforce training system Rhode Island’s educational institutions provide for biotech companies in the state," said Jeffrey Seemann, dean of the URI College of the Environment and Life Sciences. "We’ll be positioning our students to be competitive for some of the best paying and best available jobs in the state."

The centerpiece of this program will be the Biotechnology Manufacturing Training Laboratory where students will learn the fundamental principles of biotech manufacturing. The facility will house a wide range of state-of-the-art technologies, including small bioreactors used to teach product production via cell culture, chromatographs for use in teaching product separation techniques, and other tools of molecular biology.

At the end of their first year of study, students trained in this sophisticated lab will understand many of the technologies employed by the biotech industry. After their freshman year and a summer company internship, most students in the program will likely go to work full-time in the industry and complete their bachelor’s degrees as part-time students.

Amgen is one company that could benefit from an influx of new workers trained at the URI lab. It employs about 700 people at its West Greenwich manufacturing facility, and it plans to double that by the end of the year. Statewide, 2,600 workers are currently employed in the biotech industry.

"Biotechnology holds the key for solving many of the nation's medical problems," said Kathleen Retterson, vice president and general manager of Amgen. "It is a relatively young and growing industry with a lot of potential. This laboratory at the University of Rhode Island represents a significant forward step in preparing youth in Rhode Island to be a part of this important and exciting industry. Rhode Island's educational and political leaders are paving the way for Rhode Island to become a center of biotech manufacturing excellence."

Amgen is a global biotechnology company that discovers, develops, manufactures and markets important human therapeutics based on advances in cellular and molecular biology. Amgen produces ENBREL® (etanercept) at its facility in West Greenwich.

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File last updated: Tuesday, March 18, 2003

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