The overall objective of this proposal is to develop a new Site in the Center for Membrane Science, Engineering and Technology (MAST) at The Pennsylvania State University with a specific focus on membrane applications in the biopharmaceutical industry and the development of novel methods for membrane characterization using state-of-the-art electron microscopy and tomography facilities at Penn State. Membrane-based separations offer a number of unique advantages compared to competing technologies including: lower energy requirements, relative ease of scale-up, and no phase changes or chemical additives. The establishment of a Penn State Site in the MAST Center will both complement and expand upon the existing research portfolio in membrane science and technology. The proposed research at Penn State is specifically designed to address pre-competitive research challenges in bioprocessing, including the development of membrane technology for use in continuous bioprocessing. In addition, the Penn State site will provide an ideal environment for student training, including both women and students from under-represented minority groups. The addition of the Penn State site will significantly expand and strengthen the MAST Center, including exciting new interactions with leading biopharmaceutical companies, providing an even stronger environment for student training, education, and research in membrane science and technology.
This NSF IUCRC proposal aims to establish a 4th site within the existing Center for Membrane Science, Engineering and Technology (MAST) at The Pennsylvania State University with a focus on applications of membranes in bioprocessing, including new methods for membrane characterization. A number of recent developments are spurring further interest in membranes for bioprocessing. There are significant economic pressures associated with the growth in low-cost international manufacturers and the advent of biosimilars. There is also significant interest in transitioning from current batch processes to continuous operations, with the goal of enhancing product quality, improving manufacturing flexibility, and increasing overall productivity. Specific projects will address critical challenges in the application of membrane technology in bioprocessing, including issues of fouling and virus capture during virus removal filtration, integration of tangential flow filtration for product harvest and cell recycle with perfusion bioreactors, and the use of single pass tangential flow filtration / diafiltration for continuous product concentration and formulation. These projects will fully exploit the expertise at Penn State in bioprocessing along with state-of-the-art facilities for membrane characterization, providing significant fundamental insights that address critical pre-competitive research challenges in membrane technology in bioprocessing.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.