Memphis, TN — Ken Brown, JD, MPA, PhD, FACHE, executive vice chancellor and chief operations officer at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC), traveled to China earlier this month to participate in an international conference sponsored by the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation to discuss international concerns related to pharmaceutical supply chain security. The conference also focused on manufacturing practices, shipping and distribution networks, and the counterfeit pharmaceutical industry. The trip to Qingdao reflects UTHSC’s growing interests and efforts in pharmaceutical discovery, development and manufacturing.
UTHSC will begin construction of an approximately $12 million Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) facility for drug development and production in late summer or early fall. While in China, Dr. Brown visited Harbin Medical University to tour its pharmaceutical manufacturing facility, grow UTHSC’s successful partnership with Harbin that already includes student exchanges, and explore future joint pharmaceutical manufacturing and distribution possibilities.
“At Harbin, they have a pharmaceutical manufacturing facility, and because we’re in the throes of building a facility like that ourselves, I wanted to take a look at their facility,” Dr. Brown said. “Our facility will certainly be much smaller in scale, but we talked with them about being able to be engaged as a partner to our production facility, so as we move from smaller projects into larger volumes of production, we will have a GMP-quality facility that can do large-scale products for us.”
Dr. Brown said plans call for breaking ground in late August or September on the UTHSC facility, which will be built in a recently purchased building on the outskirts of campus. Construction should last 12 to 18 months. Since the Plough Foundation gave $4.5 million in initial seed money to support the development of the GMP facility, the building will bear its name. “Because of that initial seed money, this facility got traction and it’s going to ultimately come to fruition,” Dr. Brown said. “So, as a testament to the university’s appreciation to the Plough Foundation, it will be named as the Plough Center for Sterile Pharmaceutical Manufacturing at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center.”
UTHSC has approached several pharmaceutical companies about doing production work for them, and is working to develop international partners, Dr. Brown said. Meanwhile, four labs on the second floor of the Van Vleet Building on campus have been renovated for training classes for the pharmaceutical industry on aseptic manufacturing and pharmaceutical compounding. Some small-scale cleanroom projects will be handled in the Van Vleet Building, which is serving as the home to the GMP facility staff while the Plough Center is being constructed.
“As we get the GMP facility built, we’re working on our business strategy for getting customers in the pipeline,” Dr. Brown said. “Hopefully, in 12 months when the facility is commissioned by the FDA and ready to come online, we’ve got a pipeline of customers that already want us to do pharmaceutical manufacturing for them.” In support of its drug development effort, UTHSC will also do production for clinical trial efforts.
The Plough Foundation is a private organization that funds a diverse group of nonprofit entities that work to address the many pressing social and economic issues facing Memphis and Shelby County.
As Tennessee’s only public, statewide, academic health system, the mission of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) is to bring the benefits of the health sciences to the achievement and maintenance of human health, with a focus on the citizens of Tennessee and the region, by pursuing an integrated program of education, research, clinical care, and public service. Offering a broad range of postgraduate and selected baccalaureate training opportunities, the main UTHSC campus is located in Memphis and includes six colleges: Allied Health Sciences, Dentistry, Graduate Health Sciences, Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy. UTHSC also educates and trains cohorts of medicine, pharmacy and/or allied health students — in addition to medical residents and fellows — at its major sites in Knoxville, Chattanooga and Nashville. Founded in 1911, during its more than 100 years, UT Health Science Center has educated and trained more than 56,000 health care professionals in academic settings and health care facilities across the state. For more information, visit www.uthsc.edu.
The University of Tennessee Health Science Center
Sheila Champlin – (901) 448-4957, firstname.lastname@example.org or
Peggy Reisser Winburne – (901) 448-4072, email@example.com