This IRES program provides U.S. students with a collaborative, international bioprocess development and cell and tissue biomanufacturing research experience with a U.S. and German team. Although our nation has made large investments and achieved great progress in identifying biotechnologies that can be used to repair the human body following injury or disease, there is a critical need for engineering expertise to implement these discoveries, bringing them from the lab bench to commercial products. Knowledge and platforms to enable industrial scale cell and tissue biomanufacturing are critical for realizing clinical treatments and maximizing the societal benefits from the long-term research in these fields. Whereas human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) can now, in principle, be reliably differentiated into multiple therapeutic cell types, production of sufficient numbers of cells for clinical therapy is not yet typically feasible. Establishing the bioprocessing capabilities required to manufacture cells and tissues for commercial and clinical regenerative applications requires international and interdisciplinary student researcher training. This IRES program engages and trains students in applying their engineering and biological expertise to this problem in a research location, Germany/Hannover Medical School/LEBAO, which is at the forefront in this area. The overall goal is to produce scientists and engineers with strong technical communication and problem-solving skills and who have strong cultural competency and can work effectively with international partners to further our ability to repair the human body.

This IRES project establishes an international research and education partnership/program in process development for cell and tissue biomanufacturing between Auburn University (AU) and Hannover Medical School (MHH, Germany). This collaborative international research program will train 15 undergraduate and graduate student researchers over the course of three years in interrelated projects on process development for cell and tissue biomanufacturing at the MHH in Germany. Students are engaged both in an individual research project and in cohesive efforts of the integrated research team. Undergraduate and graduate student researchers are recruited through existing, strong biomanufacturing research ties with Alabama State University, an HBCU, and the AU Engineering’s state-wide network on community colleges, in addition to engaging AU students already working collaboratively with LEBAO faculty. Reflective writing and ePortfolios are used to guide students learning experiences. Students will gain subject expertise and practice technical communication skills through regular individual projects presentations to the IRES student cohort and PI, culminating a research poster presentation for members of the host institute and their local home institutions. Through formation of this diverse team of undergraduate and graduate researchers and their engagement in an international learning and research environment, the program facilitates acquisition of intercultural skills and greater global competency. The objective of this IRES project is to provide students with a high-quality international research experience, increase student retention and diversity, advance students’ knowledge of culture and scientific education and to promote their personal network development and carrier opportunities on a trans-institutional and trans-Atlantic level.

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.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
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Fahmida Chowdhury
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Auburn University
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