A group from the BSc in Biotechnology degree programme recently became the first NUI Galway students to make use of the National Institute for Bioprocessing Research and Teaching (NIBRT) facilities. As part of their visit the students received training on bioreactor operation, biomolecule separations and how the latest disposable components are used in pharmaceutical production, all bread-and-butter skills for a biotech career.
To provide world class training in industry skills the IDA recently established the NIBRT on the grounds of UCD in Dublin. The purpose-built NIBRT facility closely replicates a modern bioprocessing plant with state of the art equipment, but in a format where employees and students get a complete insight into the latest technologies.
NIBRT’s Technical and Training Supervisor Dr Kate Cotter commented, “The students were very interested and this practical industrial production training was definitely an important complement to the great biology theory they learn back on campus.”
During the trip, the students also made a stop at Pfizer’s Grange Castle site near Lucan where they were hosted by NUI Galway Biotechnology graduate Carmel Jennings. Carmel gave them a tour and a unique insight into how their training and studies are relevant in one of the world’s largest biopharmaceutical production facilities.
The training visit to Dublin was an initiative of NUI Galway’s School of Natural Sciences and acted as a trial for expanding the use of NIBRT facilities and industry visits in the future. NUI Galway has the highest rate of graduate employment amongst Irish universities, and this comes from giving its student’s access to world class facilities on our doorstep as they step from campus to career.
Biotechnology uses our scientific understanding of biology to create products like pharmaceuticals and medical devices. The sector contributes over a third of Ireland’s exports and employs more than 40,000 people, making it an important career opportunity for students studying biology.
The biotechnology area is expanding fast, with exciting discoveries such as stem cells or personalised DNA sequencing constantly being reported. Graduates need both scientific knowledge and practical “How To” skills to allow them to make Ireland’s biotech labs and factories run.