Texas A&M urges greater involvement in biotech

College Station, Texas, is fast becoming an integral part of the nation's rapid response for pandemic threats and a prime location for turning lab discoveries into marketable products, Dr. Brett Giroir, Texas A&M University's vice chancellor for research, told the White House and a daylong hearing of the Texas House Committee on Technology, Economic Development and Workforce this week.

"We have the opportunity to be the Third Coast in biotechnology," Giroir told StatesMan.com, adding, "there is no reason for biotech to be here unless we take steps to develop it."

Dr. Giroir told the Texas House Committee, which heard testimony from 15 experts on maintaining Texas' competitiveness in the global economy, that the state needs to improve its economic incentives to lure businesses.

Texas A&M was the beneficiary of the state's Emerging Technology Fund's largess, receiving $50 million that it used to help create the National Center for Therapeutics Manufacturing, which is a prototype for accelerating the nation's ability to create vaccines. The center has recently attracted federal and private investment.

The university, in conjunction with its private partners, announced Project Greenvax last month, which, instead of eggs, utilizes plants to create vaccines.

Project Greenvax is expected to begin manufacturing influenza vaccine within nine months instead of the usual five years and utilizes strategies developed at the National Center for Therapeutics Manufacturing.

"That's just the start," Giroir said. "Stay tuned."