Biochemical and Molecular Engineering XXI

An ECI Conference Series

July 14-18, 2019
Fairmont Tremblant
Mont Tremblant, Quebec, Canada


About This Conference

The 21st edition of Biochemical and Molecular Engineering conference continues a long tradition of bringing together the Biochemical Engineering Community from around the world.  The central theme of the 2019 meeting is The Next Generation of Biochemical and Molecular Engineering: The role of emerging technologies in tomorrow’s products and processes.  Our goal is to bring together academic and industrial participants for vibrant exchange of ideas, while enjoying the amenities of the Fairmont hotel in beautiful Mont Tremblant, Quebec, Canada.

Session Descriptions

  1. Discovery, Development and Production of Emerging and Current Products:Molecular engineering of plants and plant-derived products

Co-Chairs: Christie Peebles (Colorado State University) and Tim Whitehead (University of Colorado)

Plants have been engineered for millennia and are the ultimate source of many ‘foods, fibers, fuels, and pharmaceuticals’. This session seeks recent developments in the molecular engineering of plants, or plant-derived products, broadly defined. Topics ranging from therapeutic protein production in plants to precision breeding existing crops using genome editing tools to discovery of plant medicinal pathways are encouraged. Microbial engineering in the context of plants (e.g., engineering endophyte or microbial communities to improve plant health; reconstitution of plant medicinal pathways in chassis microbes) is also encouraged.

  1. Discovery, Development and Production of Emerging and Current ProductsMicrobial production of bio-based chemicals, fuels and building blocks

Co-Chairs: Jan Marienhagen (Forschungszentrum Jülich) and Itzel Ramos (REG Life Sciences)

Microorganisms are used at industrial scale for the synthesis of basic and fine chemicals (e.g., amino acids, organic acids, amines) or biofuels. In this session, latest advancements in the fields of Metabolic Engineering and Synthetic Biology for developing such microbial cell factories will be presented. In this context, topics such as pathway design and optimization as well as process-related challenges (productivity, yield, purity, etc.) will be discussed.

  1. Discovery, Development and Production of Emerging and Current Products Emerging biologic therapeutic products

Co-Chairs: Corinne Hoesli (McGill University) and Sandra Rios (Merck)

Therapeutic protein drugs are an important class of medicines serving patients most in need of novel therapies including cancers, autoimmunity/inflammation, exposure to infectious agents, and genetic disorders.  The primary focus has been monoclonal antibodies but in the future may represent a smaller percentage of the pipeline as portfolios concentrate more on development of other biologics such as antibody drug-conjugates, multi-specific constructs, antibody-derived modalities, as well as vaccines and recently with the approval of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapies – a major breakthrough for the cell therapy industry. The session will survey the vast array of current and emerging technologies, ranging from product design to upstream and downstream processing, exploring similarities and differences in manufacturing challenges compared to more established protein biologics.

  1. Current Technology Challenges and Opportunities: Microbial production of bio-based chemicals, fuels and building blocks II

Co-chairs: Ching Leang (LanzaTech) and Andreas Liese (TU Hamburg-Harburg)

Continuation of the discussion on the microbial process for chemicals and biofuels, in this session, we focus on how the “technologies” are utilized to harness and maximize the potential of a given microbial process.  In particular, topics such as different technology platforms, bioprocess engineering solutions to convert low cost feedstocks will be discussed.

  1. Current Technology Challenges and Opportunities: Sophisticated technology to understand and make use of biology

Co-chairs: Mike Betenbaugh (Johns Hopkins University) and Himadri Pakrasi (Washington University of St. Louis)

Advanced technologies and computational models are becoming integrated components in the development of new products and processes for biotechnology. Biochemical engineers are at the forefront of inventing, developing, and harnessing these platforms. This session will focus on both aspects; namely, the creation and characterization of new tools and technologies to understand biology and apply it for biotechnological advances, as well as case studies that implement these technologies for the development of new and improved products and processes. Examples include, but are not limited to, the use of high throughput automation or 3D printing for product and process improvement, prediction of up/down scaling methods for process characterization, application of modeling and machine learning techniques to predict and improve process performance, and implementation of these new tools, techniques, and platforms to enhance product levels and quality.

  1. Current Technology Challenges and Opportunities: Fitting biology into a technological world

Co-chairs: Gargi Seth (Genentech) and Nicole Borth (Universität für Bodenkultur)

While new formats of biological and innovative, cell based therapies are pushing on the market, the production of “traditional” biologics is by many considered to be an established technology. Nevertheless, the choice of optimal production host, the requirement to achieve comparability and defined product quality, the need to shorten timelines until market introduction and to ensure the cost effective, fast and reliable supply of medicines still pose unresolved challenges. In this session we will explore new approaches to achieve the above based on a fundamental understanding of the biology of production hosts and developments that enable fitting the biology into technological platforms, including but not limited to alternative hosts and platforms to achieve high titers and desirable product quality, cell and strain engineering with innovative genome editing tools, non-chromatographic methods for purification, continuous processes and improved methods to stabilize and deliver complex products. Given our focus on unique opportunities for innovative approaches, this session enthusiastically calls for case studies that highlight advances in manufacturing innovation to improve affordability, administration and delivery of products in the global health setting.

  1. Emerging Technologies: Applications of knowledge engineering and big data approaches in synthetic and systems biology

Co-Chair: Yinjie Tang (Washington University of St. Louis) and Marcella Yu (Boehringer-Ingelheim)

Knowledge-based frameworks aim to leverage the wealth of biological data and artificial intelligence algorithms to provide solutions to synthetic/systems biology problems. The data driven platforms can offer new rules to describe cellular regulation, to design pathways, to search for gene targets, and to predict cellular or microbial community responses to specified growth or genetic conditions, and microbiome dynamics/interactions. Specifically, this session will focus on information collection, construction of genomic/meta-genomic and phenomic databases, machine learning techniques, integration of mechanism-based models with machine learning approaches, and multi-scale modelling using big data.

  1. Emerging Technologies: Optogenetic and epigenetic control of cell function

Co-Chairs: Brigitte Gasser (Universität für Bodenkultur) and Ravi Kane (Georgia Institute of Technology)

Optogenetics and Epigenetics have been highlighted as “Breakthroughs of the Decade”. This session seeks recent developments in optogenetics, focusing on novel light-regulated tools and concepts to control and monitor living cells and tissues. Furthermore, the session will cover the impact of genetic imprinting during disease development and emerging options for treatment based on epigenetic control, as well as epigenetic control mechanisms relevant for and during bioproduction.

  1. Systems metabolic engineering: From systems biology to synthetic evolution

(Co-Chairs: Julia Frunzke (Forschungszentrum Jüelich),  Radhakrishnan Mahadevan(University of Toronto) and Kyongbum Lee (Tufts University)

Systems metabolic engineering, which incorporates concepts and approaches from synthetic biology and evolutionary engineering, provides a powerful framework to speed up biotechnological strain and enzyme development for the production of value-added compounds. This session will cover new conceptual and technological approaches to program microbial systems (and consortia) with a focus on synthetic evolution of metabolic productivity.

  1. Microbial consortia: Novel mechanisms and applications

(Co-Chairs: Arul Jayaraman (Texas A&M) and Volker Wendisch (Bielefeld University, Germany)

Talks in this session will focus on different application areas where microbial communities are being used. This includes applications where microbial consortia are used for the production of chemicals and fuels from various feedstocks (e.g. by distributing a metabolic pathway among a microbial consortium), as products to influence the microbiota of crops and plants, and as targets for manipulation in medically-relevant systems for the production of therapeutic molecules and nutraceuticals. Both, experimental approaches for the analysis, manipulation and production of microbial communities as well as computational methods for modeling and predicting the function of communities will be covered.


Workshop on Modeling and Analysis of Big Data

Co-Chairs: Ranjan Srivastava (University of Connecticut) and Nathan Lewis (University of California San Diego)

This workshop will explore how to develop and implement models of biological relevance using big data.  The workshop will consist of two parts.  In the first part, the focus will be on the development of mechanistic models, while the second part will look at using machine learning to create models from big data.  Areas which are being targeted include pathway modeling, structural biology, systems biology, synthetic biology, and multi -omics analysis.  The workshop will be interactive between the audience and the workshop leader, with the leaders providing case studies and/or demos.

Workshop on Entrepreneurship and Commercialization

(Co-Chairs: Matt Delisa (Cornell University) and Jim Swartz (Stanford University))

The theme of this workshop will focus on case studies from entrepreneurs around ideas/concepts that drive successful startups and business solutions.

Poster sessions:

(Co-Chairs: Wendy Hsu (Genetech), Noemie-Dorval Courchesne (McGill University) and S. Patrick Walton (Michigan State University))

Click on This Link to view the last conference in this series.

Conference Organization

Conference Co-Chairs

Christina Chan, Michigan State University
Mattheos Koffas, RPI
Steffen Schaffer, Evonik Industries
Rashmi Kshirsagar, Biogen

Conference Program

Click HERE to view the program and posters.

General Information about ECI

Engineering Conferences International (ECI) is a not-for-profit, global engineering conferences program, originally established in 1962 that provides opportunities for the exploration of problems and issues of concern to engineers and scientists from many disciplines.

The format of the conference provides morning and late afternoon or evening sessions in which major presentations are made. Poster sessions will be scheduled for evening discussion as well. Available time is included during the afternoons for ad hoc meetings, informal discussions, and/or recreation. This format is designed to enhance rapport among participants and promote dialogue on the development of the meeting. We believe the conferences have been instrumental in generating ideas and disseminating information to a greater extent than is possible through more conventional forums.

All participants are expected both to attend the entire conference and to contribute actively to the discussions. The recording/photographing of lectures and presentations is forbidden. As ECI conferences take place in an informal atmosphere, casual clothing is the usual attire.

Smoking is prohibited at ECI conferences and conference functions.

Engineering Conferences International
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