Georgia Tech’s Stem Cell Biomanufacturing Integrated Graduate Education Research Training (IGERT) program, recently identified by Nature magazine as one of the “out of the box” manufacturing educational programs in the country, announced its second class of graduate students today. The seven new trainees come from a wide variety of disciplines including the school of chemical and biomolecular engineering, biomedical engineering, mechanical engineering and material science and engineering.
The $3 million NSF-funded IGERT was awarded to Georgia Tech in 2010 to educate and train the first generation of PhD students in the translation and commercialization of stem cell technologies for diagnostic and therapeutic applications. The current state of the field of stem cell research offers a unique opportunity for engineers to contribute significantly to the generation of robust, reproducible and scalable methods for phenotypic characterization, propagation, differentiation and bioprocessing of stem cells.
Directed by Co-Principal investigators, Todd C. McDevitt, PhD, associate professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering, and Robert M. Nerem, PhD, professor emeritus in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, this grant provides a unique training opportunity to top engineering graduate students looking to understand how to scale and control stem cells into clinically relevant numbers. The goal, to train the next generation of experts in this new field of stem cell biomanufacturing for the development of stem cell technologies, diagnostics, and therapies.
Catalyzed by a surge of activity in the late 1990s, advances in stem cell biology over the past decade have continued to accelerate at a rapid pace. The manufacturing industry is expanding with commercial development of stem cell products projected to be $10 billion within the next 6-8 years. Moreover, the transformation from discoveries in stem cell biology to viable cellular technologies has enormous promise to revolutionize a range of applications for many aspects of society. As a result, stem cell biomanufacturing is on the verge of broadly impacting regenerative medicine, drug discovery and development, cell-based diagnostics and cancer.
Earlier this year, United States President Barack Obama asked Georgia Tech’s President G.P. “Bud” Peterson to join the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership steering committee to revolutionize manufacturing in the United States. Along with other industry and university representatives, the purpose of this committee is to identify and invest in the key emerging technologies, such as information technology, biotechnology and nanotechnology to help U.S. manufacturers improve cost, quality and speed of production in order to remain globally competitive. The stem cell biomanufacturing industry need look no further than President Peterson’s backyard for future experts in stem cell biomanufacturing.
“I have received dozens of calls and emails from industry looking for graduates of this program because of the uniqueness of the training and the need for manufacturing expertise,” stated McDevitt. “Georgia Tech has a real opportunity to become a leader in this emerging field and begin to answer questions about down-stream processes so that when the first clinical therapies are discovered, scientists are prepared to be able to respond with cells in the quantity and quality that will be needed for treatment.”
The Stem Cell Biomanufacturing IGERT is further catalyzed by the Stem Cell Engineering Center, which was also established in 2010 and brings together research laboratories from all over the state of Georgia to discuss and develop collaborative opportunities for research labs engineering novel stem cell based technologies, therapies, and diagnostics.
Georgia Tech's Stem Cell Biomanufacturing IGERT award will train over 30 graduate students in the first 5 years of the program. The IGERT offers a core curriculum in stem cell engineering and analytical design processes coupled with elective tracks in advanced technologies, public policy, ethics or entrepreneurship.
Tom Bongiorno – George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, Advisor – Todd Sulchek
Rob Dromms – School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Advisor – Mark Styczynski
Devon Headen – Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering, Advisor – Andres Garcia
Greg Holst – George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, Advisor – Craig Forest
Torri Rinker – Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering, Advisor – Johnna Temenoff
Shalini Saxena – School of Material Science & Engineering, Advisor – Andrew Lyon
Josh Zimmerman – Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering, Advisor – Todd McDevitt
Amy Cheng – George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, Advisor – Andrés García
Alison Douglas – Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering, Advisor – Thomas Barker
Jennifer Lei – George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, Advisor – Johnna Temenoff
Douglas White – Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering, Advisors – Melissa Kemp & Todd McDevitt
Jenna Wilson – Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering, Advisor – Todd McDevitt