Biotechnology Engineering Laboratory

Existing Bioprocessing Laboratory: Dr. William Kelly

Dr. Kelly has been very successful at assembling a state-of-the-art biotechnology facility within the chemical engineering department at Villanova. Dr. Kelly has established a biotechnology research facility, primarily through small grants (> $200,000) and equipment donations (> $500,000) from the many pharmaceutical companies (i.e. Merck, Glaxo-SmithKline etc..) located near Villanova. 

Dr. Kelly has also participated in some collaborative research projects with these companies and has published several papers in reputable biotechnology journals.   During his first five years (1999-2005), Dr. Kelly and undergraduate students have used and will continue to use the laboratory primarily to investigate aspects of  plasmid DNA (pDNA) and monoclonal antibody (Mab) bio-processing. 

The facility has been recently upgraded, renovated and expanded, and consists of a piloting area to grow and harvest cells, and an analytical laboratory to detect the bioprocess yield and purity. 

Specific Renovations

  • The “Cell Culture suite” of the piloting area contains  a laminar flow hood, a CO2 incubator/cabinet, two 20 liter steam-in-place Bioflow IV bioreactors, and a 2-liter glass fermentor used for continuous fermentations.   The “Cell Culture suite” of the piloting area is used primarily to grow Chinese Hamster Ovary (CHO) cells that produce Mabs.
  • The “Fermentation suite” of the piloting area contains  a laminar flow hood, a shaker cabinet, one 20 liter steam-in-place Bioflow IV bioreactors, and a 2-liter glass fermentor used for continuous fermentations.   The “fermentation room” of the piloting area is used primarily to grow E.coli cells, both in batch and continuous mode.
  • The “isolation room” of the piloting area contains a continuous flow CARR basket-type centrifuge, a Gaulin homogenizer and assorted mixing tanks for alkaline-cell lysis.  The “isolation room” is used primarily to concentrate and lyse  E.Coli cells, prior to DNA plasmid purification via adsorbtion/chromatography.  The room has also been used to filter cell culture broth via Tangential Flow filtration (TFF).
  • The bio-analytical laboratory contains labtop centrifuges, microscopes, a spectrometer, and gel electrophoresis equipment.  The concentration and purity of the DNA plasmids at intermediate points during the isolation/purification process is determined in the analytical laboratory using primarily agarose gel electrophoresis. 

Equipment in the Bioprocessing Laboratory

  • Two Bioreactors (20 l) and two Fermentors (20 and 2 l):   All four vessels are currently capable of delivering adequate oxygen to the cells.
    Control systems utilizing  DO and pH probes exist.  The three 20 liter vessels are made by New Brunswick (Bioflow IV) and are made of stainless steel and sterilize via steam-in-place.
  • CARR continuous flow centrifuge:  This machine effectively concentrates pilot scale volumes of E. Coli  or CHO cell broth at a flowrate of approximately 1 lpm.
  • 5 liter mixing tank and lab-top centrifuges:  Used for cell resuspension in buffers and subsequent alkaline lysis during pilot-scale DNA preparation.
Biotechnology Laboratory