SANFORD, N.C. - Dr. Brenda Grubb, Central Carolina Community College Biotechnology Instructor, participated in a Biomedical Emerging Technology Applications (BETA) Summer Fellows Industry Program. The program was sponsored by a National Science Foundation Grant through the National Center for the Biotechnology Workforce based at Forsyth Tech, Winston-Salem.
Dr. Grubb was one of five community college officials who were paired with industry and institutional partners for an eight-week period this summer. Dr. Grubb was paired with Jon Tucker, Site Lead at Pfizer in Sanford.
"We are grateful to Pfizer at the Sanford site and our NSF (Advanced Technology Education) BETA Skills grant for providing an opportunity to have Dr. Brenda Grubb, faculty at Central Carolina Community College, have a unique onsite work experience of two months," said Russ Read, Executive Director, National Center Biotech Workforce and Principal Investigator, BETA Skills. "Faculty are better at understanding what industry skill needs are required when they are exposed to current operations. This experience, taken back to the classroom by Dr. Grubb, ultimately translates into better a prepared Central Carolina graduate ready to enter companies like Pfizer."
Dr. Grubb noted that she was intrigued to participate in this opportunity because she is passionate about changing the lives of people in the community -- and training a technically skilled workforce has been a priority for the college. "There is a great demand due to the growing Biotechnology industry in this area. We have partnered with several companies in the region to get input on our curriculum and have worked to align our courses with the needs of our local employers. Being that Pfizer is one of our largest employers, it was a good fit to spend the summer getting industry exposure," said Dr. Grubb.
Dr. Grubb said her time at Pfizer was a great learning experience. "The culture there was very friendly, focused on health and safety, and had an overall sense of excellence and dedication to improving patients' lives. I learned industry information by shadowing in Technical Operations with industry professionals who shared with me their roles in the company," she said. "I toured each area of the facility and had informative conversations with the technicians, scientists, managers, and engineers. They gave me demonstrations or took me to observe during critical steps of the process.
"One of the highlights was Yellow Belt Six Sigma training to understand how to define a problem, collect and analyze data, make improvements, and control the process by monitoring success and continually improving," she said.
"I learned how vaccine products, Gene Therapy products, and other drug substances are made at the company, detailing each step of the process. I visited the manufacturing areas and saw how the equipment was operated. I also attended meetings and appreciated the excellent communication structure and monitoring of the biomanufacturing process from the bioreactor to the board room," said Dr. Grubb.
Paola Adame of Pfizer said of this program: "This summer hosting Dr. Grubb has been a rewarding and enriching experience for our site. It challenged us to think critically about the necessary skills to be successful at Pfizer and how to create even more connections between local academia and our industry. It is exciting to know Dr. Grubb is now an advocate on our behalf and we are looking forward to more collaborations for our community!"
Dr. Lisa Smelser, CCCC Biotechnology Department Chair, said, "We're grateful Dr. Grubb had the opportunity to spend the summer immersed at Pfizer. This experience will enhance the learning opportunities for students at CCCC to build a right-skilled biopharma workforce."
The CCCC Bioprocess Technology curriculum is designed to prepare individuals to work as process operators in biological manufacturing facilities like the biopharmaceutical industry. To learn more about the CCCC Biotechnology program, visit www.cccc.edu/bioprocess.
Dr. Brenda Grubb (right) is pictured with Jon Tucker, Site Leader at Pfizer in Sanford, N.C.
Dr. Brenda Grubb (right) is pictured with Pfizer's Paola Adame.