Thursday, January 20, 2011

UPMC Hopes for a Vaccine Factory

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center hopes to put a vaccine factory that is partially federally funded in a 30 acre brownfield site in Hazelwood.

First, they would have to go through a selective process through the Department of Health and Human Services. If the facility were to be built in Pittsburgh, it would cost about $600 to $800 million dollars, with about half of that cost coming from UPMC and the other half coming from the government.

Last year the Department of Health and Human Services, which has set aside more than $12 billion to improve vaccine production asked for comments prior to requesting the Request for Proposal. UPMC submitted as did other institutions.

UPMC has established a non-profit arm to prepare for the facility called 21CB. It has partnerships with IBM, Merck and Co. and GE Healthcare.

If selected, Robert Cindrich, Special Advisor to UPMC's President Jeffrey Romoff, said it would be several years before the facility would be up and running. It would focus on flu vaccines and medical countermeasures for bio-terrorism. It's estimated the facility would employ thousands.

There are no other vaccine factories in Pittsburgh.

"That's one of the reasons why we're so interested in this. This is a new industry for Pittsburgh, it fits our high tech and health care face that we're putting on the region and we have the talent for it and this would be, we hope, the precursor for other businesses in the vaccine field," said Cindrich.

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