The Center for Biocatalysis and Bioprocessing (CBB) is a one of a kind 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 a state-of-the-art bioprocessing pilot plant facility, and c) expand economic development through translational research and the advancement of university-led technology and intellectual property.
The Center’s umbrella encompasses a strong cluster of scientists, laboratory personnel, graduate students and postdoctoral associates focused on creation and dissimilation of knowledge in biocatalytic science and bioprocess engineering. This academic group is recognized for its scientific talent that has secured in excess of $15 million annually in extramural research support. The Center is the central element for a long-standing NIH 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 crosses the traditional academic disciplines. While the NIH-supported training grant exclusively supports graduate students, the Center also directs resources to undergraduate students in the form of employment (within the Center’s Fermentation and Bioprocessing Facility) as well as a newly developed course. This course, initiated in FY 2016, is entitled Upstream Biotechnology Processes and is intended for upper level undergraduate students. A companion course on downstream bioprocessing is in the planning stages. The long term goal is to parlay these courses into a workshop designed for beginning professionals within the field of commercial biotechnology.
The CBB Fermentation and Bioprocessing Facility is a world-class operation that is unmatched by any other university in the United States. This facility serves as both a contract manufacturing organization (CMO) and a contract research organization (CRO) with the objective of creating high value biotechnology materials. This facility serves as the primary scale-up pilot plant operation for biotechnology processes within the State of Iowa. Operations within this facility provide expertise in: a) production of fermentation-derived metabolites, b) optimization of protein expression, c) development of novel and effective downstream processing systems, and d) discovery of novel biocatalytic processes of scientific and economic value. The CBB operates the only facility in the State of Iowa that manufactures vaccines and therapeutic proteins for Phase I clinical trials in people.
The Center continues to support economic development by providing expertise and facilities to drive biotech manufacturing nascent products for entrepreneurs. During FY 2017, the Center helped to optimize and scale-up biotechnology manufacturing processes for a host of young companies, several having major operations within the State of Iowa. The CBB also worked directly with two start-up companies founded by faculty at the University of Iowa. In this capacity, the CBB provides unsurpassed expertise from academic faculty and professional staff to enhance translational research and commercialization. Our pilot plant-scale bioprocessing laboratory provides the basis for translating basic research findings in the laboratory to commercial scale manufacturing. Such capabilities attract significant funding and interactions from industries, universities, and foundations. As such, the CBB enjoys contracts and agreements with corporations within Iowa, the United States and around the world.
FY2018: Funds for FY 2018 will provide administrative salary support (faculty and P&S), support for academic as well as economic development programs, and resources to enhance scale-up efforts for Iowa companies.