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Houston maintains a leader in annual life science report

From 2016 to 2021, the Houston area saw the third largest jump in students earning degrees in biology and biomedicine. Photo via Getty Images

Houston is a rising star when it comes to developing homegrown talent in life sciences research.

From 2016 to 2021, the Houston area saw the third largest jump in students earning degrees in biology and biomedicine among 25 major life sciences markets, according to a new report from commercial real estate services company CBRE.

Houston saw a 38 percent spike in the number of degrees granted during the five-year span, according to the report. Only Phoenix (91 percent) and Riverside-San Bernardino, California (47 percent) bested Houston in this category.

The report shows Houston produced the 20th largest number of graduates and certificate holders (1,832) in biological and biomedical sciences in 2021.

Overall, Houston appears at No. 13 in CBRE’s ranking of the top U.S. market for life sciences talent. That matches Houston’s ranking in last year’s report. Factors that go into the ranking include the number of life sciences graduates, concentration of high-ranking universities and institutions, and density of talent.

“We need a strong pool of graduates to continue expanding the life sciences industry in the U.S.,” Scott Carter, senior vice president of CBRE, says in a news release. “The world-class universities like University of Houston, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Rice University, and others offer best-in-class programs for graduates, making Houston a top market for life science research talent.”

In terms of the number of life sciences graduates produced in 2021, the University of Houston ranks first (719 grads) among local colleges and universities, followed by The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (244), Rice University (243), the University of Houston-Clear Lake (139), and Prairie View A&M University (103), according to the CBRE report.

If those grads remain in the Houston area, they’re likely to land lucrative jobs. The report outlines average wages in the region for four career categories in life sciences:

  • Biochemist — $118,018
  • Biophysicist — $117,736
  • Biomedical engineer — $108,113
  • Chemist — $97,887

In 2022, Houston employed 8,480 people in life sciences occupations, making it the country’s 12th largest pool of life sciences research talent, says CBRE.

“Demand for life sciences research workers is above pre-pandemic levels,” Matt Gardner, life sciences leader at CBRE Advisory Services, says in a news release. “We’re also seeing a closely balanced ratio of hiring to job cuts in the biopharma industry compared with the technology sector and the broader economy, which positions the life sciences to remain stable despite an economic downturn.”

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