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Newcastle University centre acts as catalyst for bioprocessing collaboration.

GLOBALLY, there has been a significant investment among pharmaceutical companies in biopharmaceuticals in the past 15 years, and for good reason.

Discovering cures is not enough if they cannot be made generally available.

Bioengineering offers solutions to many conditions and illnesses the pharmaceutical industry has so far failed to resolve.

It also presents regulatory, scientific and technical challenges requiring businesses to improve decision-making on early failure of weak products, and crucially to develop safe, robust production processes.

Newcastle University has risen to the challenges facing the sector with the establishment of the Biopharmaceutical and Bioprocessing Technology Centre (BBTC).

The centre is focused on bringing the benefits of the latest research in academia direct to industry.

Led by Professor Elaine Martin and Professor Gary Montague, the centre brings together the research skills and knowledge of internationally recognised academics across multiple disciplines to work with industry in addressing many of the technical and scientific problems presented by bioprocessing, which uses living materials.

The biosystems engineering focus of the BBTC is an area in which the team has unique expertise and international recognition.

The goal is to understand underlying biological complexity and as a consequence manipulate biological behaviour and/or improve the way it is engineered.

Prof Martin said: "The new centre will focus on taking a drug from the point of discovery through the long and complex process that is required to make it available to patients.

"We'll be looking at ways to speed up this process, reducing the time between a new drug being found and patients actually being prescribed it." With state-of-the-art facilities developed with support from One North East, the centre also offers industry the opportunity of strategic skills development based on the latest research, including analytical methods, cell engineering bioprocessing, biosytems understanding and whole bioprocess design.

As well as Continuing Professional

Development courses for engineers and scientists, the centre runs the prestigious EngD in biopharmaceutical process development, the first doctoral programme to offer training in leading edge scientific and engineering techniques such as quality by design and process analytical technology and management skills.

Prof Montague said: "The EngD has been developed entirely in response to industry demand and provides an opportunity for the best engineers and scientists to gain industrial experience and training, while at the same time studying for a research degree within the university." "It develops their skills to enable them to work at the interface between disciplines, developing new biobusiness leaders of the future." Multidiscipline working and ventures between academia and industry are fundamental to the philosophy of the centre throughout its research and teaching activity.

Prof Martin said: "Our aim is to make the North East the UK leader in bioprocessing - attracting the best students to work alongside local industries to create a bioprocessing hub to rival the best in the world."Our aim is to make the North East a bioprocessing hub to rival the best in the worldINFORMATION To learn more about the BBTC and the EngD programme visit the website at contact Professor Gary Montague, centre director on (0191) 222-7265 or Professor Elaine Martin on (0191) 222-6231.


LEADING CENTRE Professor Elaine Martin and Professor Gary Montague in Newcastle University's Devonshire Building. An aim is to bring new medicines to patients more quickly.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jun 25, 2009
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