Recorded: 08 May 2008
The Institute itself will work on any biotechnology project, the non-profit side is going to be a genomics-focused institute. It will be primarily working on the, where are we going to take the sequence, the results, the Human Genome Project personalized medicine and clinical applications of the Genome work. But, the Institute as a whole is, has a hundred and fifty-five acres, it’s going to be a mile-long campus. So, they’ll be a lot of buildings beyond this building and it’ll – we already have a company that’s planning to build a research facility for bio-energy based on a whole new approach using synthetic biology to create the exact energy molecule you won’t, rather than you know, taking peanut oil or something and esterifying it. We have a lot of companies in various fields of agriculture and, besides human-clinical stuff.
Yeah, I really, really plan to home-grow our workforce, if you will. So, we are – our education program starts in the seventh grade, we’ll be, we’re moving up through there to graduate school and then we are going to drop back to K-through-life is what we call it, because we are going to have continuing-ed [education] programs for senior citizens and everything else. Trying to make people not be afraid of it, for one thing, we don’t want the kind of backlash in the United States that they’ve had in Europe against genetically modified things; so it’s, we’ve got to educate the public and let them make their own decisions. But, without an education they won’t be, you know, qualified. But, the big thing we have to do is raise the workforce. We’ve got to let the children of Alabama know that biotechnology is a real career opportunity and they don’t necessarily have to stay in Alabama. If they study biotech in high school, some of the advanced courses, and then go to college, either we have actually started a two-year associates degree program for technicians and it was supposed to start with eighteen students, they had thirty-six students sign up; so they created two sections and next fall they are going have seventy-two students learning how to be technicians. So, I don’t know that I can create enough jobs for all of those, but they can go to Georgia or wherever they want to…
Everyone needs a good technician, and it is, it’s terrible frankly, to have somebody with a master’s degree doing the technician-type work. You need to give both the opportunity of a good job to those people with a two-year degree and let the higher educated people do more thinking on the job.
Jim Hudson scientist and businessmen who founded Research Genetics in 1987, the company that made synthetic DNA. He received a dual major in chemistry and physics from the University of Alabama and studied molecular biology. His company was very successful and dominated the market for synthetically made DNA in USA. That allowed Research Genetics to play a main role in the Human Genome Project. Company was sold in 2000 to Invitrogen.
Jim Hudson is co-founder of HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology in Huntsville. Together with his wife he formed a biodefense company, Concero Scientific.
More information: Technology Alabama