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ECU chemist receives grant for GMP lab

GREENVILLE, NC   (Apr. 30, 2004)   —   The chemistry department at East Carolina University received grants totaling $282,500 that will build a top-flight laboratory facility in the university's Science and Technology Building.

The new laboratory will enable students at both ECU and Pitt Community College who specialize in analytical chemistry to work in a so-called Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) laboratory, a facility that meets the federal standards and guidelines required for pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries.

Moreover, the new lab will enable students to graduate from their respective programs prepared to enter the growing pharmaceuticals industry, said ECU chemistry department chair Chia-yu Li.

"This is not like a regular teaching lab. It will meet all federal regulations. Students need to understand what is going on in he current industry," Li said. "When they finish this course, they will be very marketable in the pharmaceutical and biotech industry."

The GMP lab, made possible through the Golden LEAF Foundation and the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, will be the first of its kind in eastern North Carolina, and possibly in the state, Li said. The Golden LEAF Foundation gave $250,000 toward the lab and the North Carolina Biotechnology Center gave $32,500.

In addition to the grants, Li credits the arrival of the lab as the result of a long-standing partnership with two local pharmaceutical companies, Metrics Inc., and DSM Pharmaceuticals Inc.

Metrics founders William Phil Hodges and John T. Bray were instrumental in assisting the chemistry department in the development of the lab, Li said. Peter G. Amanatides, director of quality assurance for DSM Pharmaceuticals, has also lent his expertise to the project.

"We have cultivated a relationship with our local industries through the years," Li said. "The lab was initiated by the president and vice president of Metrics. They hire a lot of our students and they saw a need in having a lab like this."

Li plans to work with these partners throughout the summer to build the lab and create a new course for the fall semester. Li will serve as the lab's director and already several rising seniors and graduate students have registered for the course.

"In the laboratory section of this course, working with modern equipment, such as gas and liquid chromatographs and optical spectrometers, students will gain hands-on experience working under the strict guidelines and regulations required by GMP," Li said.


Contact: ECU News Bureau | 252-328-6481