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Published May 07 2012

Forum editorial: Vaccine studies progress

An idea that was hatched a few years ago, and then became a vision, today is beginning to deliver on its promise.

The Tri-College University’s vaccinology curriculum will graduate its first students in a couple of days. The first undergraduate degree of its kind in the nation, the local program is a collaborative effort among educators, business people and visionary scientists. Still small, the program is aimed at establishing Fargo-Moorhead as a center of vaccine research and production.

That’s a tall order for any community, but the initial phases of the project appear to have achieved success. Four students with the new degrees in hand will graduate from Minnesota State University Moorhead. Three will go on to do graduate work. A fourth is looking for employment in the vaccine industry.

The challenge for the new degree-granting program is finding jobs for graduates. The industry in the community, while vibrant and world-class, is not yet large. The goal is to grow the private sector business, not only with top-notch executives and researchers, but also provide job opportunities for graduates of the vaccinology curriculum.

The educational component is important, but the private sector component is vital to the long-term success of the effort. The vision has brought together a cadre of highly skilled, highly motivated professionals who have staked faith and resources on the project. In addition to studies such as the course work at MSUM, North Dakota State University’s Center for Biopharmaceutical Research is fully engaged, as is the biology curriculum at Concordia College. The Tri-College aspect of the program affords students opportunities for studies they might not otherwise have.

The potential is enormous. The need for new and innovative vaccines – and processes for creating them – is global in scope. The scientists on campuses and in local companies Aldevron and Altravax are doing world-class work in the discipline. The initial success of the undergraduate program is yet another indication that investments are beginning to generate positive results.

Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.

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