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IPFW to offer biochemistry degree in ‘18

September 18th, 2017

Fills need of area medical companies

By Jill Chapman | The Journal Gazette

State officials have approved a Bachelor of Science degree in biochemistry to be offered by the newly realigned Purdue University Fort Wayne.

The Indiana Commission for Higher Education approved the new degree Thursday, pending the Higher Learning Commission's expected approval of IPFW's realignment, a statement from IPFW said. Purdue Fort Wayne will join Trine University in offering a biochemistry program in the northeast Indiana region.

Purdue University currently is the managing partner of IPFW, which has operated as one university offering Indiana University and Purdue University degrees since 1964. In December, IU and Purdue trustees approved an agreement for IPFW's governance that establishes two institutions beginning July 1, 2018. IU will have a lower profile and focus on health sciences. Purdue will handle all other academic programs.

The Bachelor of Science in biochemistry will be available beginning in the fall of 2018. It arose from the needs of the state's life sciences sector, specifically medical device companies in northern Indiana, including Zimmer Biomet, DePuy Synthes, Micropulse and Paragon Medical, IPFW said.

“We are proud to bring this new degree option in biochemistry to IPFW and the greater Fort Wayne region,” Eric Link, dean of IPFW's College of Arts and Sciences, said in a statement. “This degree will provide students who wish to go to medical school, or who wish to focus their study of chemistry on the chemical foundations of life itself, with a degree pathway. With an array of interesting and challenging classes taught by exceptional faculty, we believe that the metropolitan region will truly benefit from having this biochemistry degree option right here in Fort Wayne.” 

Several area business leaders lauded the degree program.

“The new biochemistry degree sends a clear message to companies in northeast Indiana that IPFW is listening and is here to support and help grow life sciences companies,” Brian Emerick, CEO of Micropulse, said in a statement. “As the regulatory requirements continue to increase in the medical device industry, the new degree will enhance our local talent pipeline and help our region's companies grow and thrive.”

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' occupational outlook for biochemists and biophysicists forecasts an increase of 8 percent employment from 2014 to 2024. Employment across the state is expected to increase 10.7 percent, according to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. The 2015 Employment Outlook Report of the Community Research Institute indicated a similar trend: about 9 percent (nearly 2,000) of the regional openings over the next decade will be linked to health care and life sciences fields.

The Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership said employment in medical equipment and supplies manufacturing is almost 11 times more concentrated in northeast Indiana than in the rest of the country.

“This biochemistry degree program will align well with the employment needs of our region, as health care is a top employment sector in northeast Indiana,” said John Sampson, president and CEO of the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership. “The new program provides us the chance to serve a new group of students, and we welcome the opportunity to attract students from outside the region and retain those currently living here.”