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NORTH MANCHESTER, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Manchester University in northern Indiana launched the country’s first pharmacogenomics program in 2016 and just five years later, the program has grown tenfold. The master’s degree program, which began with just eight students, involves the study of the influence of a person’s genetics in how they respond to medications. Dr. David Kisor, director of pharmacogenomics at Manchester, says the program has found global appeal and led to more programs being developed across the country.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Kisor said the program’s early growth was the result of a key realization.

“We started with on-campus and that’s why we had a smaller number, realized that there were a number of pharmacists, physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants that need education also and moved the program for an online delivery also and that really increased the admissions,” said Kisor. “What it means is that there’s more people training in pharmacogenomics. So, we’re getting to this critical mass where it’ll be applied more ubiquitously in healthcare.”

Plans for the program were detailed in 2015 and just three years later, the university announced plans for a dual degree program with its Doctor of Pharmacy degree, another first of its kind.

“The reason that’s so important is that the background of pharmacists with pharmacokinetics – that’s [how] the drug is handled by the body – when you combine that with genetics, it’s very powerful,” Kisor said. “Other schools have now come on board also. There’s at least four other programs. I know there’s a fifth coming with master’s degrees. That speaks to the growth of pharmacogenomics.”

Kisor says that growth can be found in the number of clinical guidelines for pharmacogenomics, which has increased from two or three guidelines 10 years ago to nearly 30 now. He says insurance providers are also paying more for pharmacogenomics.

“It’s getting broader, but we have to keep up with it and that’s what our program does. We keep on top of it. We have members that are involved with the Clinical Pharmacogenetics Implementation Consortium; that’s the leading group with developing guidelines. So, we stay in the forefront.”

As the pharmacogenomic industry grows, Kisor says technology will play an intricate role to not only help healthcare professionals understand the genetic information, but make informed decisions.

“For instance, if there’s somebody who has a genetic variant or DNA that puts them at risk for an adverse drug reaction, that alert needs to be in the system,” he said. “I’ll say that this technology really needs to be in place from different aspects of practice settings, so from the independent pharmacy all the way to the major academic medical centers.”

Looking forward, Kisor says he aims to broaden its outreach to partners in the pharmacogenomics industry, including manufacturers and technology companies, to connect with them from an education standpoint.

NORTH MANCHESTER, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Oji Intertech Inc., a Japan-owned automotive and industrial parts manufacturer, has sold its North Manchester operations to local businessman Wayne Robison. The Wabash County business, which employs 100 workers, will now operate as Intertech Products Inc.

While terms of the sale were not disclosed, Robison says an opportunity presented itself to purchase the hometown business.

“North Manchester is an incredibly special place, and it’s meaningful to me to invest in the town that has provided my family with such a positive sense of community, opportunity and quality of life for decades. I jumped at the chance to purchase Oji Intertech because it’s a company headquartered in my hometown that is growing and successful with strong leadership and a unique, positive culture,” said Robison.

The company says Rick Sereno, who has served over 30 years at Oji Intertech, will continue to serve as president of Intertech Products Inc.

“I know our future is bright under the organization’s new ownership. I am thrilled for the opportunity to work alongside Wayne Robison and our leadership team to maintain and grow our business, continue to provide world-class products and service to our customers, and offer an excellent culture for our team members,” said Sereno.

The company has been in business since the mid-80s and does annual sales of about $30 million.

NORTH MANCHESTER and FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Manchester University is again waiving an enrollment deposit for certain incoming students. Doctor of Pharmacy students this fall will not be required to pay the deposit, a similar move the university made earlier this month for undergraduate students.

Greg Hetrick, assistant dean of pharmacy enrollment, says the university understands that students are continuing to experience a lot of disruption and uncertainty.

“Manchester waived the deposit last year, and we heard from many students that waiving the deposit removed a barrier that might keep them from moving forward in the admissions process,” said Hetrick. “We want to make sure applicants this cycle have the same opportunity.” 

Hetrick says students will need to complete an intent to enroll form to secure a spot in the fall 2021 cohort. 

NORTH MANCHESTER, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — In an effort to save students money, Manchester University says it is waiving a deposit charge again this year. Incoming undergraduate students this fall will not be required to pay the $250 enrollment deposit.

Ryon Kaopuiki, vice president for enrollment at Manchester, says the move is part of a continued effort to help students and families who are experiencing disruption and uncertainty.

“We waived the deposit last year, and we heard from many students that waiving the deposit helped their families,” Kaopuiki said in a news release. “We want to make sure the high school class of 2021 has that same opportunity.”

Kaopuiki says if students have already deposited the funds, a credit will appear on student bills in the fall. He says if students have not yet made the deposit, an Intent to Enroll form will need to be completed. 

NORTH MANCHESTER AND FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) – Two more Indiana higher education institutions can be added to the growing list of colleges and universities with plans to reopen their campuses later this year. Indiana Tech in Fort Wayne and Manchester University say they will allow students back on campus for the fall semester.

Manchester President Dave McFadden says the university is moving forward with plans to open its North Manchester and Fort Wayne campuses for in-person classes beginning September 2.

“The health, safety and well-being of students and everyone in the Manchester community remain top priorities, and we are developing strategies to deal with physical distancing, cleaning, use of masks, additional technical equipment and more when we return to campus,” said McFadden.

Indiana Tech says it will open for in-person classes for the upcoming fall semester at its main campus in Fort Wayne and at its regional locations in Indiana and Kentucky. The school says classes for the 2020-21 academic year at its main campus begin will begin August 17.

Both schools say they have developed detailed safety protocols and specialized course scheduling and will continue to follow local, state and federal health guidance to ensure the safety of students, faculty and staff.

“Now more than ever, helping prepare our students for lives of significance and worth is vital work. While some aspects of life on campus will understandably be different this fall to ensure we work and study together safely, our mission remains the same. With Indiana Tech’s long and successful history of online education, we also have the ability to pivot quickly and effectively to online classes if needed,” said Dr. Karl Einolf, president of Indiana Tech.

Both schools say they are prepared with contingency plans should modifications need to be made.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) – Manchester University says its pharmacy students will graduate early as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The university says it will confer degrees to all 65 of its fourth-year students on May 1 and will mail diplomas to the students.

Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb recently expanded an executive order that allows temporary licensure to graduate pharmacists. Manchester worked with the Indiana Pharmacists Association alongside the Purdue University and Butler University pharmacy programs to advocate for the early degrees.

“The expanded EO allows new graduates in Indiana to jump right in and begin to immediately care for patients and provide relief for those pharmacists who have been on the front lines,” stated Thomas Smith, dean of pharmacy programs at Manchester University.

The school says students can work with a temporary license while completing the required licensures and exams. The university says pharmacies are currently seeing a bigger demand as people stock up on medication and seek health care advice.

The school says students can work with a temporary license while completing the required licensures and exams. Traditional commencement ceremonies will take place in the fall.

WABASH COUNTY, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — A North Manchester-based egg producer is stepping up efforts to help local families hit by the economic uncertainty associated with the coronavirus outbreak.

MPS Egg Farms says it is donating a dozen eggs each week to families in the Manchester Community School District.

The company, which just moved into its newly relocated headquarters in January, says a community neighbor, it’s the right thing to do.

“We know that this is a challenging time for families that have extra mouths to feed, and MPS Egg Farms wants to help ease the burden,” said Sam Krouse, vice president of business development, MPS Egg Farms.

The school received on Monday the first delivery of 720 dozen eggs. The school district will include the eggs with student meals they are sending out.

The program will run into April.

NORTH MANCHESTER, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — One of the largest egg producers in the Hoosier State is making changes that it says better reflect its core business. North Manchester-based Midwest Poultry Services has announced it will now be known as MPS Egg Farms.

The company says the new name is more indicative of its primary business; supplying eggs to leading grocery retailers, food distributors, and foodservice companies.

“We are a Midwest company. But our region, our expertise, is really nationwide,” explained Sam Krouse, vice president of business development. “As we look to increase our customer base and increase our operations, we needed to have a name that can really take us anywhere.”

Krouse says the company ships shell eggs as far west as Denver and as far east as Virginia. The number one client for MPS is Cincinnati-based Kroger, one of the largest supermarket chains in the U.S.

“We supply Kroger’s private-label eggs, both their Kroger brand eggs and some of their Simple Truth-brand cage-free eggs,” said Krouse.

Responding to consumer demand, 25% of MPS egg production is cage-free. The remaining 75% is traditional production.

“Our customers have been ramping up their consumer demand for cage-free over the years, and we’ve been able to grow in lockstep with that,” said Krouse.

Krouse says MPS started cage-free egg production in 2008. In 2015 it built an entire cage-free facility in North Manchester.

“Right now, there are a lot of producers kind of struggling to catch up to the trend,” Krouse said.

In addition to the name change, MPS also recently moved into a new state-of-the-art headquarters in North Manchester in Wabash County, an investment of about $5 million. Its previous headquarters were about 30 miles away in the Kosciusko County town of Mentone.

MPS says the move allows it to be closer to three of its four farms and to allow for greater collaboration among its team that services national customers daily.

“We’ve got a name that can take us places. We have great branding. And, with the new headquarters, we’re just really poised for strong growth in 2020 and on into 2025 and beyond,” said Krouse.

MPS Egg Farms got its start in 1875. It’s now a sixth-generation family-owned and operated company and employs 550 people.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, MPS Vice President for Business Development Sam Krouse says the company is well positioned for growth.

NORTH MANCHESTER, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) – Manchester University in North Manchester is moving forward with plans to launch a Master of Science in Nutrition and Nutrigenomics. Students who complete the program would be eligible to take the Commission on Dietetic Registration national credentialing examination for certification as a registered dietitian nutritionist.

The board of Trustees last weekend approved the program. It is divided into two phases: Three years of undergraduate study at the North Manchester campus and two years of professional study at the Fort Wayne campus. 

The institution says the timing for rolling out the program will depend on hiring faculty and receiving accreditation approval from the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics and the Higher Learning Commission.

“The MSNGx academic foundation is built upon accreditation-mandated nutrition competencies and then enhanced through inclusion of advanced nutrigenomics (NGx) training,” said Teresa Beam, Pharmaceutical Sciences Department chair and professor of pharmaceutical sciences and pharmacogenomics at the MU Fort Wayne campus. “NGx integrates genomic science with nutrition – using an individual’s DNA – to improve their health or athletic performance.”

NORTH MANCHESTER (Inside INdiana Business) — To address the growing need for nurses, Manchester University plans to build an undergraduate nursing program for the small liberal arts college in North Manchester. The university says its long-term goal is to develop a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree, preparing students to sit for their licensing examination to become a registered nurse.

A former nurse, health administrator and educator from South Carolina was hired to be the school’s first director for the nursing program.  Beth Schultz will be joining the Manchester faculty. Most recently she was the undergraduate chair for the Anderson University School of Nursing in Anderson, South Carolina.
Schultz was a faculty member when Anderson established its nursing program in 2012. 

“Nursing education has evolved over 20 years, and I have been inspired to look for ways to educate our students that will better prepare them to provide compassionate, high-quality patient care,” Schultz said.

Manchester offers a doctorate in pharmacy and masters degree in both pharmacogenomics and athletic training. The school says a nursing program is a natural fit.

“The need is now, and it’s growing,” said Lea Johnson, vice president for health science initiatives. Johnson and Schultz will work together to build the program with a goal to begin the studies in 2021. Johnson says Parkview Health system of Fort Wayne has been supportive.

“We look forward to having our nursing students benefit from a rich clinical experience – through the hospitals in the Parkview system as well as other excellent clinical opportunities in the region,” said Johnson.

The Indiana Department of Workforce Development says nurses are one of the most in-demand jobs in the state right now.