The Center for Biocatalysis and Bioprocessing (CBB) is an interdisciplinary academic research center at the University of Iowa. Its mission is to: a) enhance faculty and student development in the broad areas of biocatalytic science and bioprocess engineering, b) drive innovative industrial fermentation processes through efforts within its state-of-the-art bioprocessing pilot plant facility, and c) accelerate economic development through translational research and academic derived intellectual property.
The Center’s activities stem from a world-renowned group of faculty, scientist, laboratory personnel, graduate students and postdoctoral associates focused on the creation and dissimilation of knowledge in biocatalytic science. Our academic group is recognized for its scientific talent that has secured in excess of $15 million annually in extramural research support. The Center operates a long-standing NIH-funded Training Grant in Biotechnology. A portion of the Center’s operating budget supplements these NIH fellowships and, more importantly, supports additional fellowships for top caliber graduate students across academic disciplines. The Center also provides resources for undergraduate students in the form of employment within the Center’s Fermentation and Bioprocessing Facility as well as with a hands-on instructional lab-course entitled Upstream Biotechnology Processes. A new CBB Student Affiliates program is under development to better engage both graduate and undergraduate students to explore careers in biotechnology, in accord with the State’s emphasis on a bioscience driven economy.
The CBB’s Bioprocessing Facility is a world-class pilot-scale operation that is unmatched by any other university in the United States. This facility serves as a contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) with the ability to create high value bio-products. This facility serves as the primary scale-up pilot facility for biotechnology processes within the State of Iowa. The CBB also operates the only facility in the State that manufactures vaccines and therapeutic proteins for Phase I clinical testing.
The Center continues to support both workforce development and economic development. The Center helps Iowa startup companies to produce novel biomaterials and to create commercially viable manufacturing processes, both of which enhance investment opportunities. Our ability to manufacture bio-based chemicals is central to our support of investigative new drug (IND) applications for Iowa entrepreneurs. The Center also works to promote workforce development through novel educational programs, such as courses, curriculum development, and biotech oriented student internships.
FY 2022: Funds for FY 2022 will provide administrative salary support (faculty and P&S), support for workforce as well as economic development programs, and resources to enhance biomanufacturing for both startup and established companies in Iowa and elsewhere. As the Center recovers from the Covid-19 slowdown, the Center looks to resume funding of fellowships for students and seed grants for innovative faculty research as well as of our annual conference focused on world-wide advances in biotechnology. These efforts, and others, will create new collaborations designed to attack long-standing societal problems, strengthen graduate programs, accelerate the submission of grant applications to federal granting agencies, and promote careers for Iowa students in fields central to the State’s bioeconomy initiative. The Center is exploring ways to create business partnerships with biotechnology companies for the purpose of promoting new jobs in Iowa and creating an environment of innovation for advances in biomanufacturing. Lastly, the Center is committed to working with others across the State to enhance the State’s science infrastructure through the National Science Foundation’s EPSCoR program.