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K-INBRE & BioKansas - Supporting regional research collaboration

Posted By BioKansas, Thursday, January 11, 2018

This weekend kicks off the start of the research competition season in Kansas – on Saturday, nearly 350 undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral researchers from across the region will gather at the Sheraton in Overland Park, Kansas, for the Annual Kansas IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (K-INBRE) Symposium.  K-INBRE is a federally funded program designed to strengthen our region’s pipeline of scientists and researchers by promoting the development, coordination and sharing of research resources and expertise.  In layman’s terms, it means there is going to be a gaggle of amazingly brilliant students and professors gathered to talk about the amazing research they’re doing here in Kansas, and the resources and expertise that is available for collaboration. 

Students researchers from 10 regional universities will be on hand at the Symposium on Saturday, and will provide two minute summaries of their research to judges throughout the afternoon poster session. Judges will be looking to identify the students with the best project, poster and presentation.  As an organization that strives to bridge the gap between industry and education, BioKansas is proud to support K-INBRE by providing industry STEM professionals to help judge and by providing funds for the winning students.  We also mix things up a bit by adding an additional component to the scoring rubric: commercialization.  We will also be looking for the best and brightest researchers the K-INBRE schools have to offer, but, in addition, we are also looking for those students who have taken the next step in the research process.  Students who have an eye toward the business of science, and are working to solve a problem or generate a product.  For these students, the projects weren’t just about understanding how things work (though that type of research IS important), but about leveraging that understanding to innovate and create something that can change the world.

We’ve seen some amazingly talented students grow up right here in our own backyards. From developing a new method of diagnosing Parkinson’s Disease using simple facial recognition software to creating new ways to prevent infections in joint replacements, Kansas can claim its stake at the forefront of innovation.  Registration is closed for K-INBRE this weekend, but we invite you to attend future research competitions, including others that we support such as the Capitol Graduate Research Summit, the Kansas Science & Engineering Fair and the Greater Kansas City Science & Engineering Fair, to catch a glimpse of the future of biotech and to see for yourself the incredible students and researchers being trained in Kansas and the surrounding region.

Tags:  BioGENEius  Connect  Education  Entrepreneurship  Training 

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MATC Critical Environment Technologies

Posted By Barb Wenger, MATC Director of Bioscience, Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Note from BioKansas: One of our primary functions at BioKansas is to act as a connector between industry and education.  To this end, we work to align the curriculum of our educators with the evolving needs of our members.  There are many efforts across the region to teach, adequately train and develop the future workforce for our industry, but most of those programs are focused on training the scientists or technicians.  We think MATC has identified a true area of need with their training and certification programs outlined below, which target those whose job it is to service and maintain the laboratories, clean rooms and other critical facilities of our members.  We think this is a great example of surveying industry, identifying a talent gap, and then quickly developing a program to address that gap.  For more information on this program or how it was developed in conjunction with industry input, please contact Barb Wenger, MATC Director of Bioscience, who contributed the piece below.  


Since 2016, Manhattan Area Technical College (MATC) has been working to create a flexible Biohazardous Risk Reduction training for non-science workers in high containment environments. As the future National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) campus and the Animal Health Corridor bring more biotechnology companies to the Kansas-Missouri area, the need for construction and mechanical workers for these high containment facilities is growing. At the same time, the highly specialized environments necessary for biohazardous work create an inevitable gap in industry safety procedures designed to address a wider range of buildings. Thus, increased employment opportunities bring with them a growing need for risk reduction and safety training for high containment personnel. As a recipient of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s NBAF Think & Do Challenge, MATC has designed a Biohazardous Risk Reduction training option to provide safety skills training for Operations & Maintenance technicians, contractors, and others who work in and around critical environments. The goal of this training is to minimize workers’ exposure to occupational injuries and deadly pathogens by developing safety skills and raising awareness of potential hazards.

“From the beginning it has been our intent to make certain we understand the needs and standards of NBAF so that we can offer training within their required guidelines,” said Barbara Wenger, MATC Director of Bioscience.

MATC recently piloted two successful Biohazardous Risk Reduction Training sessions and hopes to begin offering the course to the public on a regular and recurring basis.

The next step for MATC is to develop its Critical Environments Facility Technician training program. This program, built on an HVAC foundation will enable current facility technicians to use their trade skills within critical environments such as cleanrooms, data centers as well as BSL3-BSL4 facilities. “MATC has been a terrific partner to NBAF. Their work is helping us lean in to important operational planning”, said NBAF Operational Planning Manager, Timothy Burke.

 “We recognized early on that there will be a host of partners in academia, private industry, and beyond who support NBAF. This further motivated us to develop the most relevant and impactful training possible,” said Wenger.

For more information on MATC’s Biohazardous Risk Reduction program or their Critical Environments Facility Technician training program, please contact Barb Wenger or visit http://www.manhattantech.edu/cet/critical-environment-technologies.   

Tags:  Education  Training  Workforce Development 

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