BTEC presents 1st AIM-Bio course

Published August 23, 2021

Students in BTEC's new Biopharmaceutical Lyophilization and Spray Drying course utilize scanning electron microscopy.
Students in BTEC's new Biopharmaceutical Lyophilization and Spray Drying course utilize scanning electron microscopy to investigate the morphology of a lyophilized protein-sugar cake.

BTEC presented the initial offering of Biopharmaceutical Lyophilization and Spray Drying Aug. 3–6, 2021. It is the first of eight new professional development courses being offered in 2021 as part of the five-year Accelerated Innovation in Manufacturing Biologics (AIM-Bio) program, which is funded by the Novo Nordisk Foundation.

The $27 million AIM-Bio program brings together NC State and the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) in an international collaboration to drive innovation in research and education in manufacturing biopharmaceuticals. At NC State, BTEC and departments within the colleges of Engineering, Sciences, and Textiles are partnering with DTU’s Bioengineering and Chemical Engineering departments to carry out the program’s objectives. These include developing and delivering the eight new professional development courses, conducting nine new research projects, and creating an international collaboration and exchange program. The ultimate goal of the project is to establish a world-class program in bioprocess research and development and workforce training that focuses on products and technologies critical to the future of biopharmaceutical manufacturing.

The Biopharmaceutical Lyophilization and Spray Drying course recently offered was designed for process development scientists and engineers working in formulation and process development. It examined the principles of lyophilization (freeze drying) and spray drying and discussed heat and mass transfer, critical process parameters for cycle optimization, and the advantages/limitations of each technique. Lab activities included hands-on material characterization, freeze and spray drying runs, and final product testing. Those attending represented both pharmaceutical and biotechnology firms, and their feedback was positive: “Overall, this was extremely interesting and useful,” one participant wrote. “I look forward to applying [what I learned] at work.” Another indicated, “[I] really enjoyed this course; [the] instructors were excellent.”

The course was taught by Teaching Assistant Profession John van Zanten, Ph.D., and Senior Scientist Johanna Dutton, Ph.D. “We worked hard to provide an engaging experience for our participants by alternating between lectures and hands-on lab activities,” Dr. Dutton said. “Currently, we are taking the feedback from the pilot course evaluations to  improve the content and structure of the course, and I'm looking forward to the next opportunity to teach it.” John Balchunas, assistant director for BTEC’s Professional Development Programs,  said, “This course expands upon BTEC's long-recognized commitment to applied hands-on training for the biopharmaceutical industry.”

As part of the AIM-Bio program, BTEC will offer three online professional development courses this fall and additional hands-on courses on site at BTEC. See the center’s schedule of short courses for more information.