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 Fermentation and 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 objective of creating high value biotechnology products. This facility serves as the primary scale-up pilot plant operation for biotechnology processes within the State of Iowa. The CBB also operates the only facility in the State of Iowa that manufactures vaccines and therapeutic proteins for Phase I clinical testing.
The Center continues to support 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 with well-established companies in Iowa, and from around the world, to produce high value protein-based products.
FY 2021: Funds for FY 2021 will provide administrative salary support (faculty and P&S), support for academic as well as economic development programs, and resources to enhance biomanufacturing for both startup and established companies in Iowa and elsewhere. Owing to the coronavirus, the Center’s Fermentation and Bioprocessing Facility was forced to shut-down for several weeks and this lost revenue plus a reduction in our State appropriation resulted in a reduction in CBB supported post-doctoral fellowships and a one year hiatus of its biotechnology seed grant program. The objective of each seed grant is to stimulate fresh ideas and to create new collaborations for the purpose of solving long-standing societal problems, strengthening graduate programs, and stimulating the submission of grant applications to federal granting agencies. On a more positive note, commercial demand for our Fermentation and Bioprocessing Facility has grown substantially since the coronavirus shut-down and many of the facility’s new projects center on manufacturing novel products associated with therapeutics, diagnostics, and vaccines for mitigating covid-19.