Office of External Communications

Houston, TX 77204-5017 Fax: 713.743.8199

July 6, 2007

Contact: Contact: Mike Emery
713.743.8186 (office)
713.415.6551 (pager)

New Class to Offer Insight on Industry Regulations,
Feature Field Professionals as Guest Lecturers

HOUSTON, July 6, 2007 – Whether it’s producing new drugs or enhancing agriculture, biotechnology is an industry on the rise. The University of Houston already is developing a degree program to groom professionals in this emergent field. This fall, it will offer its first course focused entirely on biotechnology.

Biotechnology Regulatory Environment (BTEC 2320) is the first course developed by the UH College of Technology’s Center for Life Sciences Technology (CLiST).

“As we strive to fulfill our commitment to UH, the community and the state of Texas, the College of Technology is very pleased to see this milestone course on its fall schedule,” said William Fitzgibbon, dean of the College of Technology.

The course will examine the role of governmental oversight and regulation during the discovery, development and manufacture of new products produced by biotechnology. It also will follow the history and evolution of drug regulations.

“The biotechnology and life sciences research industry cluster is one of the most heavily regulated industries in existence,” said Chris Baca, executive director of CLiST. “Ideally, all employees of the industry should be familiar with the regulatory restraint on their company and operations.”

Biotechnology Regulatory Environment is a hybrid course that combines classroom lectures with Internet-based coursework. Rupa Iyer, director of biotechnology programs at UH and research associate professor, designed the course and will teach it. Assisting with classroom discussions will be industry professionals from Houston-based biotechnology companies Introgen Therapeutics, Encysive Pharmaceuticals and Agennix.

“Industry experts will bring real-world experience to the classroom, and students will be able to connect the relevance of what they are learning in the class to its applications in the biotech industry,” Iyer said. “Many biotechnology professionals have indicated that college graduates aren’t familiar with issues such as quality control and regulatory affairs. This course will familiarize students with the agencies that regulate biotech products, namely the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency.”

In 2006, the Texas Workforce Commission provided CLiST with a $1 million grant to aid its development of an interdisciplinary bachelor of science degree in biotechnology, short-term training programs aimed at industry professionals and advanced degree training for teachers. Recently, the National Science Foundation awarded $121,800 to CLiST for the development of two undergraduate biotechnology lab classes that are being developed by Iyer in collaboration with Melinda Wales, Texas A&M associate research scientist and chief scientific officer of Reactive Services, an Austin-based biotechnology company.

In addition to the development of curriculum for this pending degree plan, CLiST also has begun assembling a consortium of higher education institutions and private sector enterprises to address biotechnology education and training requirements. It also developed the Web portal to disseminate industry information. These efforts were aided by a $372,000 grant from the Office of the Governor and additional funding from UH and the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.

UH’s proposed biotechnology degree program is expected to receive final confirmation from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board by next summer.

The U.S. Department of Labor has cited biotechnology as a high-growth industry and identified its three primary workforce issues as recruitment, training and education. In 2002, Texas Gov. Rick Perry established the Governor’s Council on Science and Biotechnology Development describing the industry as “the wave of the future when it comes to health care.”

UH’s College of Technology offers undergraduate and graduate degrees related to practical technology and consumer science. Its curriculum includes programs in engineering technology, information technology, logistics, merchandising and life sciences technology. For more information on the College of Technology, visit

About the University of Houston
The University of Houston, Texas’ premier metropolitan research and teaching institution, is home to more than 40 research centers and institutes and sponsors more than 300 partnerships with corporate, civic and governmental entities. UH, the most diverse research university in the country, stands at the forefront of education, research and service with more than 35,000 students.

For more information about UH visit the university’s ‘Newsroom’ at