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Bruce K. Hamilton
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Biochemical Engineering/ Biotechnology (BEB)

Biochemical Engineering (BCE) Workshop    

Disclaimer:  This National Science Foundation (NSF) funded workshop does not necessarily express the views of the NSF.

BEB Active Awards
Upstream Processing
Downstream Processing
Metabolic Engineering
Bioprocess Optimization
QSB and Post Genomic Engineering
Tissue Engineering
Nanobiotechnology and Biomimetics
Food Engineering
Proposal Preparation & Review Procedures

Upstream processing. This research area includes the testing, modeling, optimization, control of novel or improved recombinant and non-recombinant cell cultures, new biochemical reactors, and new biological processes to produce useful and high value products. Collaborative programs might incorporate basic genome and proteome based biomolecular engineering studies that lead to improved design and performance of fermentation and cell culture processes. By using on-line and real time sensing and monitoring techniques and high throughput analytical techniques, quantitative assessment of biomolecular rate processes inside a cell, metabolic pathway flux analysis, and physiological state of cells in a culture within a fermentation or purification process are considered important to control and optimize such processes. Research efforts directed toward increasing our fundamental engineering knowledge of biomolecular and cellular processes in cell culture systems needed for making useful products of economic importance fall within the scope of this program.

Downstream processing. The capability to purify bioproducts in a cost-effective manner on a commercial scale and to meet the required high purity specification for the medical grade bioproducts is an important technical goal of this program. New processes, and major improvement of existing processes, are needed to attain that goal. Downstream processing includes such areas as posttranslational protein processing, protein refolding, protein purification techniques, membrane technology, various types of chromatography including bioaffinity systems, separation techniques using combined force fields, and filtration methods.                          

Metabolic engineering is a very important emerging area in this program. It has been defined as the targeted and purposeful alteration and extension of metabolic pathways in living organisms in order to better understand and utilize these pathways for chemical transformation, energy transduction, and biomolecular assembly. Measurement and control of in-vivo metabolic fluxes is a  key component of metabolic engineering. Analysis of regulation and control of metabolic pathway groups or networks is another. Development of new in-vivo and in vitro analytical techniques to accomplish these flux measurements and control of key parameters in metabolic pathways are critically important. Metabolic Engineering Working Group

Bioprocess optimization. Process monitoring, design, control, and optimization require knowledge of the current state of every step involved in a bioprocess at both the biomolecular and manufacturing level, and then the process can be optimally controlled. The most effective and integrative optimization of upstream and downstream processes is dependent on detailed knowledge of the chemical, physical and biological states of the bioprocess, and on design and control algorithms that can optimize and maintain the process at optimal conditions. Optimization and control methods should be robust, adaptive, and suited to non-linear processes. In addition to studies on the individual process units that constitute upstream and downstream processing, the optimal design and control of the integrated system of several units that make up a production plant is important for the most efficient manufacture of biotechnology products. An optimization of a totally integrated manufacturing process can be subject to complex interactions among the individual process units that make control difficult.

Quantitative Systems Biotechnology and Post-Genomic Engineering. This initiative seeks innovative high risk and/or high return research that will yield quantitative biosystem models, quantitative analytical tools, and improved experimental tools to enable the use of genomic and proteomic data for predicting phenotype or for integrating the understanding of the design principles and functions of unicellular recombinants and non-recombinants. The aim of this program initiative is to channel recent developments in the fields of genomics, proteomics, bioinformatics, and epigenetics into high impact areas of bioprocess analysis, design, control and optimization. Participation from and collaboration with different communities adept at complex biosystems analysis is highly encouraged. Several programs within the Engineering Directorate at NSF support this initiative.  http://www.wtec.org/qsb/

Tissue Engineering in BES includes mainly gene and drug delivery and development of regenerative functional tissues. This program focuses on the design of engineered three dimensional matrix materials for cells and/or development of regenerated tissues that are biologically compatible and mechanically functional. Recent advances in therapeutic stem cell culture technology and ex vivo cell culture technology, both at the macroscopic tissue level and at the microscopic biomolecular and cellular level, have set the stage for the development of practical applications of tissue engineering. Controlled synthesis and/or regeneration of healthy living tissue, therefore, appears to be a promising endeavor where bioengineering approaches provide possible short and long term applications involving a wide spectrum of tissues, including, but not limited to, skin, bone, blood vessels, liver cells, pancreatic islet cells, cartilage, nerve cells, bone marrow, and blood components. http://tissueengineering.gov

Nanobiotechnology and Biomimetics. This is a part of an NSF wide initiative on collaborative research and education in the area of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (NS & E). The goal of this program is to support fundamental research and catalyze synergistic science and engineering research and education in emerging areas of nanoscale science and technology, including: biosystems at the nanoscale; nanoscale structures, novel phenomena, and quantum control; device and system architecture; design tools and nanosystems specific software; nanoscale processes in the environment; multi-scale, multi-phenomena modeling and simulation at the nanoscale; manufacturing processes at the nanoscale; and studies on the societal implications of nanoscale science and engineering. The NS & E solicitation provides support for: Nanoscale Interdisciplinary Research Teams (NIRT) and Nanoscale Exploratory Research (NER). Other research and education projects in NS & E will continue to be supported in the relevant Programs and Divisions. http://www.nsf.gov/nano

Food Engineering. The safety and quality of the United States food supply is a high national priority. BEB supports engineering proposals that increase the safety or utility of our food supply. Proposals on sensors that rapidly detect food borne pathogens and toxins are sought.

Proposal Preparation, Deadlines, and Review Procedures

All proposals must be prepared in accordance with instructions contained in the NSF Grant Proposal Guide (NSF 04-23).  Single copies of this brochure are available at no cost from the NSF Clearinghouse (301-947-2722) or via email (pubs@nsf.gov).  All proposals are reviewed according to the new merit criteria, located in the NSF Proposal Guide (NSF 04-23).  Proposals with durations of three years or less, and a budget of $500,000 or less will be accepted at any time.  The education and training of personnel capable of carrying out commercial-scale biological processes is an important goal of this program.

A special feature of the biochemical engineering/biotechnology effort is an annual competition for large, multi-disciplinary awards. Investigators can apply for up to $400,000 per year for as long as five years for collaborative work that will advance the engineering capability in biotechnology and provide an educational environment for the biotechnologists of the future. It is expected that the teams of investigators will include both engineers and life scientists. A special panel is convened to review these applications. In order to be considered by this panel, a proposal must be received by NSF NO LATER THAN January 15. In addition to the new merit review criteria cited in the NSF Grant Proposal Guide (NSF 04-23), proposals in this competition will be evaluated for their potential to address the problems associated with the production and processing of substances obtained through the application of  principles and techniques of modern molecular biology.  Synergy between and among the investigators and the projects within the proposed effort must be obvious so that a result significantly greater than that obtained in individual laboratories with single investigators is achieved.

Click below to view active awards:

Biochemical Engineering



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