Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies recently announced plans for its Gene Therapy Innovation Center, a facility located in College Station that will be a key part of the company’s efforts to work with partners to find cures for genetic diseases.
The Gene Therapy Innovation Center, estimated to cost $55 million, is expected to be completed by fall 2021 and will be approximately 60,000 square feet, according to a release. It will be adjacent to Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies’ current location along what’s known as the Biomedical Corridor in College Station, just west of Easterwood Airport.
Gerry Farrell, chief operating officer of Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies in College Station, said Tuesday morning that the science and technology-driven company works with its customers to advance gene therapy and immunotherapy products.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration defines gene therapy as the work of scientists to find ways to modify genes or replace faulty genes with healthy ones to treat, cure or prevent a disease or medical condition.
Farrell described gene therapy work as a “growing area.” He said recent years have seen a handful of products approved, with more in clinical trial phases.
“We are looking at potential cures for genetic diseases in our lifetime,” Farrell said. “We develop and grow the viral vectors that would carry the genetic information to cells that are missing that piece of DNA.”
Farrell said Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies came to the Brazos Valley in 2014 and now has about 250 employees, with about 100 more forthcoming due to the gene therapy center. The center is one part of a capital investment of approximately $120 million.
In addition to its growing local presence, Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies has more than 2,000 employees at locations in North Carolina, Denmark and in the United Kingdom, according to Farrell.
College Station Mayor Karl Mooney said Tuesday that the announcement of the center was welcome news for College Station and Bryan.
“When a huge, international company makes the kind of investment that [Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies] has decided to make — this decision triggers other developments, and helps other companies to consider College Station and Bryan,” Mooney said.
Mooney also said that both cities — through upgrades of parks and exploration of building facilities such as a local YMCA — need to work to continue supporting the presence of companies like Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies that bring a formally educated workforce and have higher-than-average salaries.
Matt Prochaska, president and CEO of the Brazos Valley Economic Development Corporation, said Tuesday morning that the announcement of the gene therapy center is “a banner day” for the Brazos Valley. Prochaska praised Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies as “great corporate citizens” and said that they are invested in supporting the local community.
“The economic impact is in the millions of dollars and this is really positive news for our community,” Prochaska said. “It’s all tied together, too, because it takes the whole community to make these things happen.”
Prochaska, Farrell and Mooney all noted the presence of scientifically engaged students and faculty at Texas A&M, Blinn and the RELLIS campuses as part of the draw for companies like Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies.