Below is the text version for the webinar, "How the Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts Process Development Unit (ABPDU) Is Training the Next Generation of Bioprocess Engineers," presented by the Bioenergy Technologies Office in September 2021.
Erik Ringle, National Renewable Energy Laboratory:
Well hello everyone and welcome to today's webinar How ABPDU is Training the Next Generation of Bioprocess Engineers. I'm Erik Ringle from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
Before we get started I'd like to cover a few housekeeping items so you know how you can participate in today's event. You'll be in listen-only mode during the webinar today. You can select your audio connection options either to listen to your computer audio or dial into your phone. For the best connection, we recommend calling in through a phone line. You may submit questions for our panelists today using the Q&A panel. If you are in full screen view, click the question mark icon located on the floating toolbar at the lower right side of your screen; that will open the Q&A panel. If you are in split screen mode, that Q&A panel is already open and is located at the lower right side of your screen. To submit your question, simply select all panelists in the Q&A panel drop down menu, type in your question or comment, and press enter on your keyboard. You may send in those questions at any time during the presentation. We will collect these and, time permitting, address them during the Q&A session at the end. If you have technical difficulties or just need help during today's session, I want to direct your attention to the chat section. This chat section is different from the Q&A panel it appears as a comment bubble in your control panel your questions or comments in the chat section only come to me so please be sure to use that Q&A panel for content questions for our panelists. We are also recording this webinar today. It will be posted on the Bioenergy Technologies Office website at a later date along with these slides. Please see the URL provided on the screen here for more information.
Now quick disclaimer before we get started. This webinar including all audio and images of participants and presentation materials may be recorded, saved, edited, distributed, used internally, posted on the U.S. Department of Energy's website, or otherwise made publicly available. If you continue to access this webinar and provide such audio or image content you consent to such use by or on behalf of DOE and the government for government purposes and acknowledge that you will not inspect or approve or be compensated for such use.
Okay, with that I'll now turn things over to Justin Rickard to introduce our topic and our panelists today. Take it away. Justin.
Justin Rickard, National Renewable Energy Laboratory:
All right. Thanks Erik. Can you hear me okay?
Yeah. You sound great.
All right. Thank you. And welcome everybody. I'm Justin Rickard with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Just a few more items before we get to the presentation. This webinar is brought to you by the Bioenergy Communicators Working Group also known as BioComms. This group is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy's Bioenergy Technologies Office also known as BETO. The BioComms Working Group includes bioenergy communicators, laboratory relationship managers, and education and workforce development professionals from the national labs and BETO who gather once a month to strategize on how to effectively communicate and promote BETO funded research and development to the public. The BioComms Working Group also provides the public the opportunity to learn about current and emerging bioenergy technologies, projects, and partnerships through monthly webinars. Which brings me to the agenda for today's presentation.
Jason Ryder, Adjunct Professor and Executive Director of the Master Bioprocess Engineering program at UC Berkeley. Will give an overview presentation about UC Berkeley Master's Program and how it integrates with the hands-on work at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts Process Development Unit also known as the ABPDU. After Jason's presentation, James Gardner, Program Manager for the ABPDU and the Agile BioFoundry Consortium, will lead a panel discussion with key stakeholders involved with the master's program.
All right. Before we get started, I'd like to provide the bios for each of today's presenters and panelists. Bear with me while I go through all five. Jason Ryder is a bioprocess engineer, entrepreneur, and educator with experience in process and product development, engineering, design, scale-up, and commercialization in the industrial, biotech, and food tech sectors. His professional work has ranged from small molecules to proteins with applications spanning sustainable chemicals, fuels, materials, and foods. Jason is the Chief Technology Officer and Co-Founder of Joywell Foods - a food technology company building a new category of food and beverages based on naturally sweet proteins. Prior to Joywell, Jason spent time in senior technical leadership roles at Amyris, Bolt Threads, and Hampton Creek, and Eat JUST. Jason earned a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Alabama and a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley. In 2018, he joined the UC Berkeley faculty in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering where he currently serves as adjunct professor and executive director of the Master of Bioprocess Engineering also known as MBPE Program.
James Gardner is the Program Manager for the ABPDU and the Agile BioFoundry Consortium. In this role, James manages the Agile BioFoundry's five million dollar annual directed funding opportunity among other industry-facing initiatives. He serves a similar role in developing and managing outside collaborations for the ABPDU and serves as principal investigator for a number of research and development projects. In his prior roles, James helped lead the startup phase of the ABPDU and worked in a variety of development and operations teams in biotech and product manufacturing.
Jan-Phillip or JP Prahl works as a senior process engineer in fermentation and recovery at the ABPDU at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. In his current role, JP is in charge of managing and executing collaborations with industry and academia spanning over a broad range of bioproducts. His expertise lies in developing and scaling microbial processes from bench to pilot scale. JP manages a team of research associates and engineers and his spear-heading efforts in workforce development activities at the lab such as lectures, video SOPs, and training sessions in fermentation and recovery technology. Prior to joining ABPDU, JP was an intern at the Joint Bioenergy Institute where he researched the production of lignocellulotic biomass degrading enzymes using a thermophilic filamentous fungus - that sounds cool.
Monica Bhatia is the former Vice President of Process Development at Geltor, a biodesign company that offers animal-free proteins for beauty, personal care, and food and beverage markets. Monica's interest in biotechnology was sparked by an undergraduate lecture on how microbial growth can be modeled mathematically and how that knowledge can lead to the creation of novel products. She considers her work at Geltor a great example of blending her passion of science and innovation with the desire to benefit human health and wellness.
Last but not least, David Chang is a Senior Research Associate at ABPDU before joining ABPDU David completed his master's degree in Bioprocessing Engineering at UC Berkeley which helped him establish his knowledge of biochemical engineering and hands-on experience of pilot-scale facilities. He sees his work at ABPDU as a great opportunity to discover and learn about the innovation and diversity in the biotechnology world.
All right. Before I hand it over to Jason Ryder, I'd like to remind you that you can ask questions at any time during the presentation using the Q&A panel and selecting all panels. We will collect these and try to address them during the Q&A session at the end of the panel discussion time permitting. All right next slide and Jason, please take it away.
Jason Ryder, University of California, Berkeley:
Great! Well thank you very much Justin and a good day to everyone out there on the interwebs. I am Jason Ryder Adjunct Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering here at UC Berkeley—you're going to hear the campanile in the background, because it's high noon here—as well as Executive Director of our new Master of Bioprocess Engineering Program.
Today I am super excited to tell you about a new course that we've developed in partnership with Berkeley Labs ABPDU and the bioprocess industry to train the next generation of scientists and engineers who will enable a long list of bio-based technologies, processes, and products to come to market. But before I go there, a bit more about me...the short version.
I am a chemical engineer by training and a sustainable bioprocess engineer by choice. Over the past 15 years this has meant developing sustainable chemicals, fuels, materials, and foods for companies like Amyris, Bolt Threads, Eat JUST, and Joywell Foods. This is also meant designing and building out the facilities necessary to translate these bio-based technologies into scalable commercial processes and products as well as hiring and training many bioprocess scientists and engineers along the way. My key observation was that there was nowhere near enough qualified candidates for my roles, not to mention others spanning biopharma, industrial, biotech, food tech, advanced biologics...I could go on. In a very related story, I've returned to UC Berkeley to grow and develop an entire generation of bioprocess scientists and engineers to meet our common moment. What is that common moment? Rather than tell you my stories let me point to the data.
The California Life Sciences Industry publishes a Sector Report every year on the companies, revenues, and employees that drive them throughout the industry. Spoiler alert! We have a growing demand for trained bioprocess scientists and engineers to address the many challenges facing our planet and populations spanning climate, food, health, and more. There are more jobs and opportunities every year but there are not enough qualified candidates to fill them.
Why might you ask? Well the bioprocess industry has developed benchmarks on training to perform the role of Associate Scientists or Process Engineer, but many graduating students do not meet these benchmarks. Instead, they're hired into operations roles largely without a growth path. Meanwhile, established companies fill this need through temp agencies, contract roles, and - my very least favorite - hiring away from each other. This is not a recipe for success for anyone. And so, having experienced this problem from the pointy end of the stick myself, I reached out to a few of other bioprocess industry experts for their thoughts on how best to solve this problem. This included the following folks from Amyris, Bayer, Boehringer Ingelheim, and VIR Biotechnology as well as a few of my UC Berkeley colleagues. This is our industrial advisory board.
And we spent a day together puzzling through our benchmarks—our common benchmarks—with the goal of developing a curriculum supported by the right facilities to address this pressing need. And I'll tell you a little bit about this program and how it was designed to support our students and the crown jewel which is the hands-on training with a common set of bioprocess equipment ubiquitous across the biopharma, industrial, biotech, and food tech industries. And that'll be the main topic for today. This is overall our nine month Master of Bioprocess Engineering Program. So our curriculum includes both bioprocess fundamentals and hands-on applications spanning lab and pilot scale operations. Overall, it was designed to set up an aspiring bioprocess engineer for success in the biopharma, industrial, biotech, and food tech industries. It is, also, based on these industry benchmarks developed by hiring managers from the bioprocess industry who also help teach the classes. This is a recipe for success for everyone.
And here's what it looked like during our first year, the 2020–21 academic year, when we hosted our inaugural class of MBPE students. Unlike most of the United States and the world, this was not a fully online year for our students. I'll come back to that in a minute when I tell you about the only in-person class we taught in Spring 2021.
This is what our new cohort of MBPE students looks like this year. Note that we are all back on campus in both our classrooms and our laboratories. Me I'm here in my office. I promise you that they are smiling - albeit in person and behind masks designed to keep us all safe - but back in campus we are.
As I mentioned earlier, the MBPE curriculum is nine months or two semesters and includes both classroom fundamentals and hands-on laboratory applications. I'm going to hammer that a lot today. It also allows for flexibility in electives to pursue your interests spanning biopharma, industrial, biotech, or food tech.
All of this begins with the 170 series our Biochemical Engineering courses are designed to introduce the essential concepts of the analysis, design, development, scale-up, and commercialization of bio-based processes and products.
The bioprocess party, as I like to call it, begins with 170A on living cells, the bio-based products they make, and how to design unit operations and processes around them. For example, a Sartorius Ambr250 mini reactor or a 300 liter Stainless Steel Bioreactor. I'll come back to both of those. The party continues with 170B on the recovery separations and purification of those bio-based products with focus on centrifugation, filtration, and column chromatography. I'm going to come back to those three unit operations in a minute as well. Alongside those two courses we also provide an opportunity to translate all of those fundamentals into meaningful bench skill applications for aspiring bioprocess scientists and engineers alike. But wait there's more! So our industrial advisory board made a few key recommendations for the ideal MBPE Program. Among them was going beyond the fundamentals offered in the 170 series to cover quality frameworks like quality by design, as one example. Statistical experimental design like DOE and good manufacturing practice. Better still, they joined me in the classroom to teach it from a place of experience and industry relevance.
But we are here to talk about this course. The key recommendation made by our industrial advisory board. All of the previous coursework I've been talking about prepares our students for our advanced bioprocess engineering laboratory taught at the Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts Process Development Unit - that's ABPDU as we call it in Emeryville. In the Spring semester, our students are ready to begin applying and scaling their knowledge to the pilot plan. This is the ubiquitous scale between bench and commercialization and the proving grounds for most bio-based technologies.
This includes five main categories of experiments in the unit operations that underpin them. That is the Sartorius Ambr250 mini bioreactor, the ABEC 300 liter Stainless Steel Bioreactor, the Alfa Laval Disc Stack Centrifuge, the M20 spiral membrane filtration system, and the Cytiva AKTA Avant. I know I wrote GE, because I grew up with GE, not Cytiva. But it's Cytiva now.
This set of experiments starts out with applying the knowledge of both bioreactors and statistical experimental design to perform a DOE a design of experiments on a yeast system making indigo iodine. Here we have Tiffany Chen, one of our superstar graduates from our inaugural MBPE class celebrating in-person classes—her only one over that year—by putting her hands on the Ambr250 and learning how to use it. There really is no other way.
This experiment is followed by and coupled with an ABEC 300 liter Stainless Steel Bioreactor to train our students on vessel prep—that's cleaning and sterilization—scale-up from 250 mils to 300 liter, and of course, yeast fermentation. Lots and lots of learnings here spanning steam sterilization of batch nutrients, post sterile additions, probe calibration, inoculation, and—regrettably, yes, sometimes—contamination. It happens in academia too folks, not just in industry. And this is a great time to have that failure and then never do it for your boss in industry. Next up is centrifugation with our Alfa Laval MBPx404S for processing our whole cell broth. Again, lots and lots of meaningful learnings and downstream processing spanning solid liquid separations, process optimization, sample processing,...I could go on. Take the class.
For those of you who are interested in proteins or excited about proteins like me, we then perform a purification of milk protein with our Alfa Laval M20 test unit. We use the cross-flow filtration capability to purify this 19.8 kDa lactalbumin.
And finally, we visit Scott Tran another superstar graduate from our first cohort doing a protease purification using Cytiva's AKTA Avant that you can find at most all biopharma companies including Behringer Ingelheim where Scott is now a scientist. That is a picture of success.
And here are a few more. Scott is not the only picture of success to come out of UC Berkeley's Biomolecular and Bioprocess Engineering Programs. Here you can see a few more of our happy graduates and bona fide bioprocess engineers at their dream jobs across the biopharma, industrial, biotech, and food tech industries. You're going to meet another one of them live today. This is why we are here!
And this is how you can get here. Here I've given you a summary of the eligibility requirements to take this Advanced Bioprocess Engineering Laboratory course at ABPDU as well as join the MBPE program overall. Please send in your application by Friday the 14th of January and I'll come back to you in mid-February. Thank you and I'm excited to meet you all today. And back to you Justin.
All right. Thank you Jason. Erik can you hear me okay?
Yeah, your audio is great.
Okay great. So thanks Jason. We appreciate that great overview of the master's program. And next on deck is James Gardner who will moderate the panel discussion with Jason, JP, Monica, and David. All right, James.
James Gardner, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory:
Hello and it's great to be here and welcome, audience, to this panel discussion. So the biomanufacturing sector is just growing like gangbusters and it holds promise for helping to decarbonize the economy, to reduce pollution, even to harden sensitive supply chains, to help stave off the threat of deforestation, provide never before available products, and many, many other benefits. However, the growth of this still young industry is still threatened by a lack of expertise to develop, commercialize, and run bioprocesses at scale. So we're here to learn more about the UC Berkeley master's program, of course, and it's fantastic to hear from Jason on this front. And so, today's panelists can offer a kind of multifaceted and highly relevant set of perspectives from those who conceived of and taught the curriculum—in Jason's in JP's case—to those who benefit from the course either as a student—in David's case—or as a leader and representative of the biomanufacturing at large—in Monica's case. So I'd like to welcome the panelists.
Would you like to come on and show your screen?
All right. Hello.
And do we have everyone? All right! Fantastic! Okay.
I think I'll open up the questions to you, Jason, just to maybe riff off a little bit of your talk which was fantastic. Thank you for that. I love the fact that you brought up how industry helped craft and even teach some of the course in this very demand-driven way which makes so much sense. I'm curious, what kind of surprised you about the suggestions you received? Was there anything in particular that just was unintuitive and really caught you by surprise?
Honestly, no. What surprised me was that we were already all on the same page largely as to what the program needed to look like. And it revolved around getting our students hands on bioprocess unit operations while they were still in school, right, to get that training and experience to be ready to go straight into the bench scale or the pilot scale. And I think what surprised me most about that is the bioprocess industry is pretty diverse across biopharma, industrial, biotech, food tech, now advanced biologics, many, many more. But the unit operations, there's a very common theme and the five that hit the top of the list from my industrial advisory board happened to all be at ABPDU. So it was a brilliant, sort of, being in the right time and the right place and the right region kind of moment. And so happy to be here to deliver that for our students and future bio-process scientists and engineers.
Great. And it sounds as though having the ABPDU as a nearby resource really just was a game changer in terms of the quality and the kind of offering of this particular coursework.
And I forgot to mention this in my intro, but JP has been a big part of that. As I have used the ABPDU as a resource from my commercial interest starting with Amyris followed by Bolt Threads, Hampton Creek, and most recently at Joywell Foods, even this week. And JP has been there all along the way. And that's a huge resource for our students. As he gets to see a lot of different technologies spanning all the industries that I mentioned; probably some that I didn't. To be able to share that with students, it's dropping them into a ready-made contract manufacturing organization of sorts. So they can hear JP tell while they're doing experiments using equipment that he's used in all cases.
Got it. Fantastic. So you reference the students there. I'm curious, what did the inaugural cohort kind of look like in terms of the makeup of the students that were participating? Was there anything that struck you about the diversity of the group? Or the backgrounds of the group?
Yeah. It was a really interesting time to launch a program in the middle of a pandemic and I think our students largely reflected that moment as they were all spectacularly interested in solving health-related crises. And in a very related story, they're all mostly focused on biopharma coming out of it. But we have many students from California and in that class we had a few international students as well. And the trend is a bit different for this current class as we're split right down the middle between biopharma, industrial, biotech, and food tech interests. So just like Berkeley, they're very diverse and all over the map with their interests and goals. And that's great, because we've built the program for all comers and I think we still have enough runway to change with the needs of the industry.
That's fantastic. That's great to hear. Biopharma seems too often sort of soak up the resources. So it's nice to hear that there's a breadth of interest there.
JP, I'd love to hear some of your perspective as well. You've received training from and have yourself trained numerous staff over the years at ABPDU. How was your experience in training the bioprocess students different from training ABPDU employees or the same or...just curious to hear your thoughts.
Jan-Philip (JP) Prahl, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory:
Yeah. Hi everyone my name is JP. And thanks, Jason, for the kind words. And thanks, James, for the question.
So, yeah. I think, obviously, that the course was different from training staff at ABPDU in many ways. And the two things that came to mind was: one, that the group that I was training was pretty diverse in terms of the level of expertise in the lab; like basically having hands-on wet lab experience. So for some it was, maybe not the first time, I think, one of the first couple of times actually being in the lab. And then for others, they actually had a full-time job already working in the lab full-time. So basically I have to develop a sense for the group and I want to make sure that the course itself and the lesson is basically effective as tailor-made as possible for that group that I was dealing with on that specific day.
The other thing I want to say is that the group size was, also, different. At the ABPDU, typically, we trained like one or two people at a time. In this, case we had four students per group. Which in the normal year, I think, is not a problem, but I guess we all know that 2021 is not a normal year with COVID. So we had to get creative and have to make sure that all the strict COVID protocols from Berkeley Lab where followed, of course, like social distancing. And so for those who don't know, when we are working in the laboratory let's say we're running a steam and place procedure on the ABEC pilot reactor, what you really want to do is you want to look at the control screen. And the control screen is like a monitor, basically, what you guys have at home, right now. If you imagine you're five people—me and the four students—staring at the monitor. That's a pretty intimate experience. And this is, definitely, not going to fly when you have COVID and search distancing protocols. So, again, we have to be creative and we did. We addressed this in two ways: One was we recorded training videos ahead of time and then we shared those with the students so they could review and that this would significantly reduce the time of just poking around. You know, like people already know what they expect they come in and they already know, "Okay. This is the ABEC. This is where the valves are." And then for the control computer problem, we set up a remote connection into the ABEC control computer and then we shared the session through a video platform, similar to what we're doing right now. And then all the students that would be able to sit in front of their computer, in front of the equipment, and then they could see the control screen on their own computer and see the valves opening and closing. And this was really key in making this whole thing a success and it worked out really well.
It seems to me that not only did it work out well, but you came up with some incredible tools and some incredible content that can serve that same purpose maybe for other uses. I'm curious to hear maybe how this experience has changed the way you approach training overall? Or how you might utilize some of these new resources that you've developed.
Yes, sure. That's a great question. During the course, again, we noticed that the video that we developed were incredibly powerful, both archiving the information, the knowledge on the equipment, but then also spreading the word of the equipment and the things that we're doing. So we developed this series of training videos that are available on YouTube. Everybody's more than welcome to check them out. And those videos are incredibly helpful for onboarding new staff at ABPDU. So we routinely fall back on these videos. We review them even if someone who has worked extensively with the equipment but maybe it's like two months ago and then they forget some details and it's very easy to look up some details. And then also, the video streaming is something that is very useful as well, because you can have recorded sessions, you can record Q&A's. Those are the things that we use a lot on a daily basis in the ABPDU.
Awesome. Awesome. So I am going to drop the link into the chat so that folks can check out the ABPDU's YouTube channel. Please don't get sidetracked and try to multitask and keep your focus on panelists while we have them.
I'm going to switch a little bit and turn the focus to you, Monica. From an industrial perspective, kind of what skill sets taught from this course do you feel are most relevant. I'm curious if you have any thoughts as to what kind of an MBPE 2.0 could look like in terms of, maybe other skill sets that that leaked to mind for follow-on training.
Monica Bhatia, Geltor (formerly):
Yes, absolutely. Just want to say first of all, delighted to be here. Thank you, JP, for nominating me and inviting me. And I would, first of all, like to start by saying, Jason everything you said about the industry and it's not hype, it's true. The industry has very significant momentum right now. And directionally, it's a service actually to mankind that the industry can ultimately do in the sense of the sustainability benefits that we are going to be able to provide. It's an incredible, incredible moment from that perspective. And in terms of hiring experience, I've been in the industry for 15 years. And I want to start by saying that in my 15 years as a technology scientist to manager and then over to VP, building much larger teams, PD or process development has always been the hardest sector to hire for. Maybe Jason can vouch the same. So from that perspective, I think the number one thing I would say is every skill this course is teaching you is highly relevant to the industry. Starting from the tour of the lab, small scale cleaning, sterilization actual process, etc., etc.; you name it. Industry is primarily focused on a few things. They want to get out the best quality product. They want to get out the right type of product, like the product form factor. And then they want to do it at the cheapest cost, right? So all of that are direct functions of what unit operations and what processes the product is going to be subject to. So fermentation and downstream are really kind of the money departments in a company. The skill set that, as I heard from JP, walking, especially with the coursework that Jason described. And then walking through each of those unit apps and looking at and seeing the equipment in actual working; that is a rare skill set for someone coming out of academia into the industry right now. Industry almost has to rely on highly experienced people in order to start at that level. Therefore, if you're coming in and bringing those skill sets already, you're already kind of distinguished from the crowd and it's on to a great load of success for you. Jason showed you the average salary. It's pretty attractive right now. So I would say go grab the opportunity. I wish I had opportunity to do this course when I was in undergrad.
That being said, what could the MBPE 2.0 look like? So we have great experience, actually, developing the Geltor technology platform at ABPDU with JP's help. And that platform converted over to, so far, five different commercial products in five years. So one thing we had to kind of go outside of ABPDU to do was the last step of the process, which is spray drying.
So I would start by recommending to ABPDU to maybe bring in those types of equipment, now, where you can really help the students understand how does the process deliver the final product such as a customer would see it. That I think would really help bridge that gap on the final step.
My second recommendation is to include some industry tours. Those are always helpful. Those are always memorable for students. I'm 100% sure many companies around us would be willing to do so. So I would recommend that, as well.
And I think that the last suggestion—and this is also coming right off the experience at ABPDU and then going to 75,000 liter scale, right? So there's been a lot in that journey...is once you have a good like feel for what the equipment at ABPDU is looking like, maybe with JP and Jason's help, we can invite industry themselves. For example, Alfa Laval. And say, "Can Alfa Laval show us all the different kinds of centrifuges, for example, or all the different kinds of filter skids that they have," because what the industry chooses depends on what their product is and what their host organism is. So, really, this is about adding breadth. But, you know, those are all adding to a course that's already great and super inspiring and enjoyable. So I just want to say, amazing, amazing job there, JP and Jason.
I can attest to the fact that we talk about spray dryers almost every day at the ABPDU. So stay tuned.
Okay, so I'd love to hear from David as well. In some ways, David your experience and your perspective is perhaps the most important. You're the direct recipient of the hard work that has gone into creating this class. And so, you've had an opportunity obviously to kind of jump right into the lab and apply the things that you've learned and I'm curious to know what kinds of things have you applied? What have you come away with thinking, "Wow! I'm so glad I took the course because I'm applying it in this way today."?
David Chang, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory:
Hi everyone. I'm David and the first thing that comes to my mind would be that the course is a very comprehensive one. It's a very comprehensive learning experience about the equipment which I'm working with today especially the operating procedures. And besides the brief introduction we were given in the lectures, the SOP videos that JP mentioned earlier also played a very important role to me. You can read and watch those resources several times and try to remember as much as you can. Before actually putting your hands on this equipment we also have several quizzes to test if you really understand what will happen after each step and maybe the fundamental ideas behind it. Now as an engineer on the fermentation team we conducted the fermentation process in 300 liter bioreactor or the Ambr system quite often. The training I receive in the course really helps me remember lots of details and those critical steps I need to be aware of, which makes me adapt myself to this job easier and have more confidence when operating this thing alone. Also, what I want to add is that when we were really operating this equipment in in-person lectures, our instructors like JP and Jason would always tell us the reason behind each step and why we are doing this, why we are doing that, or provide some tips they learn that could make your work easier. And I think it's a good way to understand the logic and theory behind each step of operation and these are priceless things that you cannot learn from textbooks or a manual from the vendors, because you will need several years of experience to accumulate them. I think this really helps me a lot nowadays especially when I need to troubleshoot some issues or understand new concepts or new ways to do a new process and I can try to figure out what's going on and what should happen next. Yes, that's all I want to share.
Okay. Fantastic, David. I'm, also, curious to know if you have any thoughts as to what kinds of concepts or what kinds of new techniques or processes you would like to master in your subsequent training.
You mean if I have a chance to have this training in a lecture or...?
It could be. I was thinking about the different kinds of skids like the filtration skid that was referenced in the presentation or different kinds of techno-economic analysis—that's obviously sort of more of the textbook side of things, but just interested in hearing your perspective.
Oh, yes. I think, because each step you need to spend a lot of time to get used to it. Even though I have some experience in the course to operate this kind of equipment, for now I'm working with 300 liter bioreactor every day, but there's still some mistake I will make during the process. Yes, so I want to learn it step by step. Like after I get familiar with the bioreactor or equipment I'm working on right now and then I can go, maybe, downstream to a filtration system or an HPLC system. So I would say it's better to learn all of them step by step and each maybe for a short time.
Got it. Yeah, JP and I were talking about this the other day and as comprehensive and as important as courses like this are there's certainly not a substitute for spending time in front of the equipment. And a million dollar fermenter is not learned in an afternoon or even over the course work like this. So, really appreciate your sensitivity to that.
I'd like to turn it over to Monica to maybe zoom out a little bit and maybe put this course into the larger context of the kinds of things that the biomanufacturing industry faces. And so, any production facility, any product development program faces many simultaneous challenges all at once and workforce is part of that. Where, in the lineup, does the topic of workforce fall in terms of sort of ranked challenges. And maybe Jason you can riff off of Monica's question or Monica's answer after afterward.
Yes. I think as I said before the skill set around process development is the largest gap right now in the skilled workforce that industry is seeking constantly; at least I can vouch for that on the technology side of workforce development in industry. But even if you know what's happening, James—a lot as I'm seeing and maybe Jason is seeing the same thing—is a lot of people with chemical engineering backgrounds are also actually eventually becoming the people occupying roles such as in business operations. Because, ultimately, if the cost of the product is so heavily influenced by process, the learning in this course stays with you for the lifetime of the product and business development and is extremely beneficial to providing the comprehensive understanding of how will the business side of a company work. So I really just want to, also, mention that. So typically like in the life cycle of the skill development in industry… so, for example, if you were to come out of this course and join industry, ideally what might happen and something like David is saying is he's spending a lot of time on the 300 liter right now, right? So you'll each kind of find your own either sweet spot or a preferred area and you'll become an expert in it. And then, but I think with the foundation, such as of this course, what will stay with you is the broad understanding of the process and I think that that's going to set you apart as your career progresses and you start to become more like technology managers or leading teams and leading processes to large scale. So I just want to also say that breadth is extremely important, because ultimately to lead technologies into the realm of business and profitability the troubleshooting skills are vital. And that's only going to happen if people understand the process a lot. So I just want to say, kind of in sort of summary that the course is going to serve as a foundation for gathering a lifetime of skill sets and whether you choose to be, eventually, like a high-performing engineer or the owner of a facility or an entrepreneur or a business unit manager, this course will serve you well.
Fantastic. Okay, thank you. That's well said.
Jason I'd be curious to hear your thoughts.
Yeah, I would echo everything that Monica said there and add a few things.
One of my joys in this course, and I mentioned it a bit around JP, which is the best practices sharing that happens overall in this program and in this course. While it's true that many of the companies in this space are experiencing many challenges at once, many of those challenges are the same as other companies in the industry and we need not solve all of those problems independently. And having a common facility like ABPDU to come, not just to train in as our students are, but to use as a resource for process development, scale-up, and commercialization is a great way to share those best practices. And Justin, I think you mentioned this early on, we also welcome equipment vendors into the class to talk about our equipment from Sartorius, the Ambr250, to Alfa Laval, and the Centrifuge to Cytiva and the AKTA. And socialize that as well as a bioprocess scientist or engineer in the field. You're encountering a new problem or you need a new piece of equipment, hey reach out to your buddies at Geltor or at another company that have solved maybe a similar problem before and provided it's not something that would get their you know IP attorneys in a twist, they're very happy to tell you. And I'm one of those guys. I think it's great to socialize that concept with our young bioprocess scientists and engineers very early in their career so they can go do it and exponentiate it throughout.
Fantastic. That's great to hear. Yes, you can really obviously hear Jason's excitement. And Jason your excitement is contagious. I'd be really curious, JP, to kind of hear about what's exciting you about the biomanufacturing in the future of this field? Do you do you see a bright, shiny path ahead or are there really tough problems that are going to stand in the way? What are your thoughts?
So, I think what I'm most excited about or most fascinated about with biomanufacturing is the fact that we're a needed team. Like you really need a team of experts, you need someone who knows the strain development, the metabolic engineering, the fermentation, the upstream, the downstream, business development, statisticians...you need every single one to make this whole endeavor a success. But then as Monica mentioned, of course, you, also, need these people that are specialized. But, also, you need the people who are able to connect the dots. For example, if you have foaming problems and you add anti-foam to the tank and then the recovery team doesn't like that at all, so they tell you like, "Hey! Okay we can't add anti-foam, otherwise, our membrane will follow up." So then someone has to talk to the strain development team and ask if they could maybe make some tweaks to the strain. So if there's nobody who speaks a common language that's, of course, a problem. So yes, I think that's very fascinating that you need a team of experts and managers otherwise, yeah, you're doomed. I guess.
And yes, so in terms of the future I think there's two things that need to happen. One is we need more facilities—user facilities like the ABPDU—across the state, across the country. Maybe, also, larger scale bioreactors so we have 300 liter here but it would be good to have like a thousand, fifteen thousand liters. And the appropriately sized DSP. And then, also, of course, the workforce development is a big aspect making this whole success and I think that's the reason why we're all here today.
You know, it occurred to me in all of our discussions previously that there are so many people who don't necessarily have immediate inroads into an institution like UC Berkeley and they get their start in locations like Laney College or Solano College. And I'm curious. Maybe, Jason, you can speak to this what kind of overlap or what kind of springboard can a community college offer for entry into a master's level program?
Yes. I am a scale-up and scale out bioprocess engineer by design. And so, I'll give a shout out to my friend Jim DeKloe at Solano College who runs one of those programs. And I love access and scalability, right? And his program is one of those that gives that early exposure and access to bioreactors and concepts as a springboard into a program like ours. We're designed for chemical engineers and that means folks that have a background in thermodynamics, transport, kinetics, but we have had non-traditional chemical engineers go through the program and take a few courses over the summer, for example, before they come in. But my vision is really a scale-out model for this program. I'm a yeast guy; I think in terms of lag, log, and stationary phase. And so, we had a really long lag phase for this program, maybe 25 years in my experience, right? But we're going now. We're in exponential growth and I think maybe that stationary phase is around 32 students, but that sounds like limiting access and so I know there's a lot of other great programs out there that would benefit from a class like this and a facility like ABPDU. So I'm happy to share those materials and help get you going. Connect you with JP, as well, to talk about what success looks like in those programs. But we have a few of them here in the Bay Area; I am in the Bay Area, so I'll talk about Jim and Solano, Laney, and a few others that are part of that ecosystem. And we need more.
Yes, absolutely. It's so true that if we're to have the level of success that we all kind of envision for the biomanufacturing industry we need to see just dramatic growth in terms of getting out these trainings and broadening the skill set. Teaching people how to think critically across the series of steps as JP had alluded to. So it makes perfect sense. I want to be able to offer the audience an opportunity to chime in. I'm not sure if we have any questions. I think maybe not, but perhaps we can hear from our hosts to see if there are any questions that have evolved.
Hey, James. I think you can keep going.
Another four minutes.
Fantastic and if by any chance any attendees do happen to have a question that leaps to mind, please do put it in the chat and we'll see if we can address it. So David, you talked about the kinds of things that you would like to do in the future and really hone your skills and look at the downstream processing site. Have you had an opportunity since you get to stroll around ABPDU constantly with your work day-to-day? Is there anything in particular that you've looked at? I think you mentioned the AKTA Avant that we have at the facility.
Yes. I think if I am the student in the program, I think there is already a lot of information for me to consume and to remember. So what I expect is to have more than one in-person training for each piece of equipment, because—for us maybe, it is because of the pandemic or other reasons—we had only one in-person training for each equipment. But sometimes it's hard to understand what's going on when it is the first time you do it, even though we already have a preliminary understanding from the lectures or the SOP video. So you just follow the instructions and do it without thinking about it. So what I'm thinking about is if you have a second chance to do it combined with the experience you learn from the first time you may be able to figure out what's the next step to do, how you need to be aware of, and something like this and you can really say you have experience on certain kind of equipment. Second time can always refresh your memory and make you learn better. Yes, that's how I thought about it.
Got it. Thank you.
You know, in talking about different places where this kind of training could take place, it occurs to me that the industry itself obviously does lots of in-house training. I'm curious, Monica, if this is an opportunity to develop a kind of in-house curriculum that could help spread and distribute the kind of trainings that this course has developed. What are your thoughts on that?
Yes, absolutely. So when we came to ABPDU, in fact actually, we, I think, developed sort of mutual protocols. We almost sometimes learned protocols from how ABPDU is doing theirs and, in some ways, I feel maybe we might have taught ABPDU a little bit of how we looked at fermentations or runs or processes and what we would like tweaked in them. So I think that mutual exercise benefited Geltor tremendously. I would say quantitatively we were able to scale 10 times faster, because of this mutual collaboration. So I would just want to highlight that given that most of the processes in the industry are very, very common to what ABPDU has built as a common framework for educating through the course, yes, the symbiosis is a great opportunity here.
Industry, you could reach out, for example, let's say Geltor. You could reach out to them and help them develop a protocol for the course around, for example microfiltration, right? And maybe even invite one of them to come teach the course and they can help you understand some of the typical pitfalls, etc.
So it's not just sometimes like learning microfiltration or handling microfiltration. As we go to scale, we learn and see a lot of things around cleaning, how much membrane life we got, what's the cost of this membrane versus that membrane? So perspectives once shared are, I think, larger than the sum of their parts here. So I would really encourage for ABPDU to do that.
Well thank you so much, Monica and panelists. Thank you, all, very much for attending this panel and offering your insights. We are definitely in the log phase and it's great to be there. We'll see lots and lots of growth come from that. So thank you again and I'll turn it over to our host.
All right. Thanks, James. Next slide, please, Erik. And we are out of time.
If you didn't get your question answered, you're welcome to send them to either the ABPDU staff at the general email list in the middle and left of the slide or to the program admins at UC Berkeley at the email list at the top of the slide in Key Dates section for the MBPE program. I'd like to thank Jason Ryder, James Gardner, JP Prahl, Monica Bhatia, and David Chang for taking the time to speak to us today. Just a great informative and diverse discussion. All right, once we get the webinar up, we'll post it to the BETO webinar page at the URL there at the bottom of the slide. And everybody have a great day thank you.
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