On May 1 and 2, WPI’s Biomanufacturing Education and Training Center along with key WPI faculty from Biology, Biotechnology, Chemical Engineering, and Biomedical Engineering hosted the Annual Advanced Biomanufacturing Symposium. In its fourth year, the symposium continues to bring together minds from academia and industry to share insights and trends on Advancements in Protein Therapeutics and Emerging Technologies and Cell and Tissue Therapies.
The symposium kicked off with MA Secretary of Economic Development Mike Kennealy reaffirming the state’s commitment to the life sciences sector in Boston and beyond by announcing a new Mass Life Sciences Center Biomanufacturing Innovation Grant, with WPI ChE Prof. Eric Young among those awarded a grant to advance his work in gene therapy. Travis McCready of MLSC elaborated on how his organization’s capital investment in innovation hopes to keep discovery, development, commercialization and manufacturing in Massachusetts.
Keynotes by two industry leaders highlighted two areas in the industry. Dr. Michael Betenbaugh, Center Director, Advanced Mammalian Biomanufacturing Innovation Center (AMBIC), Professor, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Johns Hopkins University, emphasized the importance of collaboration to solve challenges in the life sciences. Dr. Richard McFarland, Chief Regulatory Officer, Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute (ARMI), BioFabUSA, outlined the changing landscape of the regulatory environment during his presentation, Drawing Creatively within the Lines: Regulatory Approaches for Emerging Regenerative Medicine Therapies.
Highlights from the two-day event included:
- Automation: WPI ChE Dept. Head Prof Sue Roberts lead Pam Obando, Pfizer, and Lou Mello, Rockwell Automation, in a conversation about the need for convergence in operations technology and information technology in today’s automated biomanufacturing suites. “I envision a day when every hospital will have a manufacturing facility attached to it. And that’s not too far in the future.” – Lou Mello
- Single Use: Patrick Guertin of GE Life Sciences shared his life cycle environmental impact assessments of single use technology, explaining how the industry is prioritizing sustainability, and Michelet Dorceus, Eppendorf, discussed scale-up challenges for single use bioreactors.
- Facility Design: Cynthia Wooge, MilliporeSigma, shared her insights on critical design features for high potent containment in biotech facilities. Kevin Lynch, Sartorius Stedum, discussed how critical assumptions can be in determining the size of your facility (“mass balance is everything”).
- Quality, Troubleshooting, Manufacturing: Amanda Lewis, Bristol-Myers Squibb, shared how her work integrating Metabolomics testing into the biologics manufacturing process has resulted in improved troubleshooting, decreased variability and overall a more robust process. Amy Doucette, Applied Materials Pharma Group and a BETC instructor, outlined how the industry can use knowledge management to “manage by excellence rather than by exception” to enable a culture of quality. Dr. Mary Clare McCorry, ARMI, described her realization that “there was so much more to getting a product to market beyond making the science work.”
- Gene Editing: Ramsey Majzoub, Intellia Therapeutics, presented to an enthusiastic crowd on the preclinical work his company is doing to develop a proprietary lipid nanoparticle gene editing product. WPI ChE prof. Dr. Eric Young described how his lab is constructing novel engineered organisms for biomanufacturing that exhibit improved metabolism and protein production for increased product yields.
- Tissue Engineering: Several WPI faculty presented their research, including BME Prof. Catherine Whittington schooled us on her work to model the complexity of the cancer tumor microenvironment, critical research that could inform work to increase the survival rate of hard to diagnose cancers. Colleagues from UVA and Auburn University (Chris Highley and Elizabeth Lipke) gave us a glimpse at the future of tissue engineering with their work printing 3D hydrogels and utilizing biomimetic materials.
UVA Faculty guest speaker Prof. Chris Highley stated that he loved the “strong industrial flavor” of the symposium, with industry professionals actively engaging with academic research, and asking great questions of our speakers. Overall, the symposium was a great opportunity to bring together industry and academia, with industry sharing new and timely information in Biomanufacturing and academia giving insight into research that may one day make its’ way into helping move the industry forward.
WPI continues to propel the industry forward, as highlighted by Dean of Arts and Sciences, Dr. Jean King, Dean of Engineering John McNeil, and Vice Provost for Research, Dr. Bogdan Vernescu, describing the thriving research and research partnerships WPI is engaged is, including 9 of the 15 USA Manufacturing Institutes, including NIMBLL and ARMI.
Thank you to all who came and made this year’s event such a success! Next year’s date for the fifth Annual Advanced Biomanufacturing Symposium has already been set. Save the date for May 6 – 7, 2020 for another two days of industry and academia collaboration and networking.
WRITTEN BY KRISTIN GOPPEL, WPI SR. PROGRAM DEVELOPMENT MANAGER & RYAN BRENNAN, WPI ASSOC. DIRECTOR, CORPORATE PARTNERSHIPS