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Immunotherapeutics and Biotechnology

DIB profile image The Department of Immunotherapeutics and Biotechnology (DIB) was established on the Abilene campus in September 2012 with the purpose of integrating science faculty residing on that campus who were conducting research in immunology, immunotherapy and biotechnology. Recent advances in immunology and biotechnology have brought rapid developments in areas of monoclonal antibody therapy; immune-mediated cellular therapies including the first Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved personalized dendritic cell vaccination for treatment of metastatic prostate cancer; adoptive T-cell therapies; anti-cancer vaccines; etc. In addition, biologic agents continue to be the fastest growing segment of new treatment therapies with various biologics, especially monoclonal antibodies, having become part of routine treatment strategies for many diseases. A goal of DIB is to assist the pharmacy profession to play a leading role in biologic target discovery as well as biologic drug design, development and clinical application. This Abilene-based department complements existing basic science departments of the School in Amarillo. It was also developed with a parallel strong link to the TTUHSC Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences for which it helps run the TTUHSC M.S. graduate program in Biotechnology.

DIB has four main objectives:
  1. to build state-of-the-art basic, translational and clinical research programs;
  2. to provide outstanding professional education and scholarly experiences to pharmacy students in areas linked to immunology, immunotherapy, and biotechnology;
  3. to be the administrative home and academic leader in training graduate students in the MS and PhD programs in Biotechnology; and
  4. to coordinate activities with the Office of Technology Commercialization to develop new commercial life science entities for the region.
To achieve the department’s four objectives, DIB faculty are committed to team science that is focused on thematic research programs to discover new therapeutic agents and diagnostic biomarkers. Furthermore, DIB faculty members play an important role in educating pharmacy students through instruction in courses that include immunology, microbiology, biotechnology, pathology and pathophysiology. They work along with basic science faculty from other departments to carry forward the required sciences portions of the Pharm.D. curriculum, particularly in those areas of immunology, immunotherapy, and biotechnology. They are working at developing a Graduate M.S./Ph.D. Program in Biotechnology, which is shared between the Abilene and Lubbock campuses and is part of the TTUHSC Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.

The Abilene SOP has outstanding infrastructure and equipment resources that make DIB faculty competitive in obtaining extramural grant funding. Currently, two-thirds of DIB faculty members have extramural funding from agencies that include the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense, and the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT). The, DIB is an asset to the School which helps meet the needs of research-intensive, basic science faculty members in Abilene and complements well previously existing basic sciences departments in Amarillo (Biomedical Sciences and Pharmaceutical Sciences). DIB expands educational and scholarly opportunities for pharmacy students in cutting edge fields of biotechnology and immunotherapy, while at the same time providing local faculty mentoring and leadership on the Abilene campus.

The Mission

of the Center for Immunotherapeutic Research is to improve the healthcare of people through the development and implementation of novel immune-based approaches and methods to detect and treat human diseases.

The Vision

of the Center for Immunotherapeutic Research is to grow translational and clinical research in immunotherapeutics at the School of Pharmacy through the establishment of a team of interdisciplinary and interdepartmental investigators working in a highly collaborative and technology-driven environment.