Manassas Journal Messenger | Coughter leads GMU’s biotech program toward new goals

Jerald P. Coughter will have a hand in corporate partnerships, networking and managing schedules since assuming responsibilities as George Mason University’s director of life sciences management.

Since his appointment in June, Coughter has spent some time learning the ins and outs of his position, through attending seminars and preparing for future events.

University officials have placed life sciences management as one of its top priorities.

“The life sciences have grown so quickly. The structure of how we’re organized is evolving,” Coughter, 43, said.

Come this fall, George Mason University’s Prince William Campus will offer graduate programs in biodefense. Coughter’s mandate includes advancing the university’s commitment to biomedical research, according to a press release.

Ken Alibek and Charles Bailey, executive directors for George Mason’s National Center for Biodefense, bring expertise in biomedical research to the university. One of Coughter’s key responsibilities will be managing their schedules, he said, noting both Alibek and Bailey are prominent people in the industry.

According to Coughter, the number of biotechnology industry leaders interested in the program grows by day.

“I’m not exaggerating to say we get contacted by somebody every day,” Coughter said.

Coughter said George Mason is the perfect place to be “on the cutting edge of research.”

Also a student, Coughter is currently working on his doctoral degree in public policy with a focus in science and technology policy at George Mason.

Coughter has lived in Loudoun for about 15 years. He comes to George Mason after working at Virginia’s Center for Innovative Technology since 1999.

He served as first executive director of the advisory board of Gov. Mark R. Warner’s Virginia Biotechnology initiative. He serves as a member on the board of the Virginia Biotechnology Association.

Life sciences includes studies in microbiology, molecular biology and bioinformatics computational technology, said Christopher Hill, George Mason’s vice provost for research.

The use of highly trained people as adjunct faculty, preparing students for the work force and research opportunities can all be possible through business partnerships, said Lawrence Czarda, Prince William Campus vice president for operations.

Coughter brings specific credentials into biotechnology partnerships, Czarda said.

“I mean he’s kind of uniquely qualified,” Czarda said.

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