DTCC board approves new medical product safety program

Sep. 24, 2013 @ 09:01 PM

The Durham Technical Community College Board of Trustees voted Tuesday to approve a new college program focused on medical product safety and pharmacovigilance, which would teach students how to track medical and drug products through different stages of clinical research, before FDA approval to post-marketing.

According to Melissa Ockert, DTCC dean and department head of health technologies, starting a Medical Product Safety/Pharmacovigilance curriculum program has been on her wish-list for five years and will be one of the first such academic programs in the country.

The new academic track will be part of the Clinical Trials Research program at DTCC, which trains students for clinical operations positions, such as data managers and clinical research coordinators.

Durham Tech is located in a “hotbed of pharmaceutical research,” Ockert said, allowing for close relationships with local pharmaceutical companies.

The program will get started with a $46,472 grant from the N.C. Biotechnology Center. The funding was received before the state asked the Biotechnology Center to cut millions from its operating budget. The money will cover clinical data management software, the hiring of a full-time program coordinator, professional development training and textbooks.

The program will help improve student access to jobs, Ockert said. More than 250 jobs in pharmacovigilance are expected to open up in the Triangle in the next four years, and these DTCC graduates will help improve product safety in their new careers, she said.

“We hear all the time, all the news that this drug was pulled off the market,” she said.

The next step is to submit the program to the State Board of Community Colleges for approval. DTCC will roll out pharmacovigilance as a certification program, so students already studying clinical trials research can add on to their career skills, and also offer an Associate of Applied Science degree in Medical Product Safety/Pharmacovigilance.

The goal is to offer the program by spring.

Also that evening, the board unanimously approved the fiscal 2013-14 budget; There is $24.5 million allotted to Durham Tech from the state current fund, or available funds overseen by the State Board of Community Colleges. The 2012-13 original state current fund budget for Durham Tech was $25.3 million, resulting in an $800,000 decrease this year to cover institutional support, continuing education, such as GED examiners and the Small Business Center, academic support, such as continuing education administration, and student services.

In terms of campus aesthetics and safety, plans are in the works for new campus signs meant to improve access. The college also is looking into vendors to install emergency blue lights around buildings to improve campus safety.