Students attending classes in the Paul Peck Academic and Innovation Building may not realize it, but just upstairs, researchers are changing—and saving—lives. Home to the Germantown Innovation Center (GIC), approximately 24 life science companies and more than 100 employees are hard at work on the second floor. One company—Zalgen Labs—played a key role in the development of a test to rapidly diagnose Ebola. Another firm created a pediatric anthrax vaccine.
“Having the GIC on campus gives students and faculty exposure to cutting-edge discoveries in life sciences and technology,” says Martha Schoonmaker, executive director of the Pinkney Innovation Complex for Science and Technology (PIC MC). “And it provides a pipeline of talented workers to help Montgomery County reach its economic goals.”
The GIC features 11 wet labs that are designed to safely house experiments involving chemicals and other liquids. There are also 45 offices as well as conference and huddle rooms. Inside, scientists are developing new drugs, products, and devices.
A three-way partnership, the GIC is owned by Montgomery County and managed by BioHealth Innovation, Inc. (BHI). The College can provide state-of-the-art equipment, interns, and other resources. When researchers with Zalgen Labs needed a specialized piece of equipment, a Montgomery College biotechnology professor helped the team track it down.
“The partnership is a unique proposition to serve growth-oriented companies in Montgomery County with BHI’s experience in providing resources and support services to early-stage biohealth companies and Montgomery College with its excellence in the instruction of laboratory sciences,” says Rich Bendis, CEO of BHI.
The GIC is just one part of PIC MC, home to Holy Cross Germantown Hospital, the only hospital in the country located on a community college campus, and the Bioscience Education Center.