UH offers new biotech course

The UH College of Technology recently announced that it will be offering a new course in the fall semester to give students a hands-on approach to science.

"This is a first in Houston and we’re the first to put emphasis in Biotechnology in Texas," Director of Biotechnology Programs and Research Assistant Professor Rupa Iyer said. "This is a lab integrating both research and technology. We’re taking current research and infusing (it) into an undergrad lab."

Biotechnology Regulatory Environment, also known as BTEC 2320, will be the first of its kind at UH.

"The course will not only give them hands-on experience, but also to empower them to future research," Iyer said. "It takes a practical approach to science."

The course will analyze the lifecycle of a typical biotech product, including the government’s role during the discovery, development and production of the biotech product, such as an enzyme or a medicinal breakthrough, which are regulated by agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency.

The course’s lab components will include a molecular lab project in which students will be performing gene expression, which deals with the gene information (such as DNA), among other experiments and a bio-process component where students would focus in on the purity of the bio-product through distillation and the process behind it.

"The biotechnology and life sciences research industry cluster is one of the most heavily regulated industries in existence," Executive Director of UH’s College of Technology’s Center for Life Sciences Technology Chris Baca, said in a release. "Ideally, all employees of the industry should be familiar with the regulatory restraint on their company and operations."

The course will feature a combination of lectures, discussions with Houston area professionals, online coursework and a hands-on approach in the lab, Iyer said, who designed and will teach the course in the fall. This is the first part of a seven-step implementation of a biotechnology program at UH. A new course will be offered in the spring, while two more will follow next year, Iyer said.

"This is going to be the foundation for a research experience for undergrad; it’s also going to serve for teacher training," Iyer said. "This course will serve as a model curriculum to be adapted by other universities that want to integrate academic research into their curriculum."

Students interested in enrolling into BTEC 2320 will need to complete one semester each of biology and chemistry as prerequisites. Students who haven’t taken one of them, Iyes said, are still welcomed to inquire about it. Iyes is slated to teach the class in the fall.

The University’s new biotechnology degree program is still under consideration by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

CLiST is funded in part by the Texas Workforce Commission and the National Science Foundation. The TWC awarded CLiST $1 million to pursue its goal of creating an interdisciplinary Bachelor of Science degree in biotechnology. The NSF also awarded CLiST $121,800 for the development of two undergraduate biotechnology courses, in collaboration with researchers at UH, University of Texas A’M and Reactive Services, a biotechnology company based in Austin.

Leave a Comment