ACS-BIOT (Biochemical Technology) is a division of the American Chemical Society that is composed of industrial and academic scientists interested in bioprocesses and bioproducts—especially biopharmaceuticals. In 2015, the organization, at the request of its members, supported the formation of regional BIOT groups. Leading that effort in the Philadelphia area is Professor William J. Kelly, PhD, director of Villanova University’s graduate program in Biochemical Engineering (BioChE). Dr. Kelly, with help from fellow BioChE faculty and graduate students, coordinated the region’s first BIOT meeting—“Biopharmaceutical Products and Processes: What’s Coming Next?”—which was held on Villanova’s campus on September 17.
The Philadelphia area’s strong pharmaceutical industry presence was leveraged as three prominent company leaders were invited to speak at the gathering. Dr. Michele Myers, product leader within GlaxoSmithKline’s Global Manufacturing and Supply, spoke on “Gene Therapy;” Dr. Ravinder Bhatia, associate director of Cell Technology at Janssen Pharmaceuticals R &D, addressed the topic of “Cell Therapy;” and Dr. Wayne Froland, associate vice president, Center for Biopharmaceutical Manufacturing Sciences, Merck Manufacturing Division, presented “Continuous Bioprocessing.” Following the presentations, Dr. Kelly moderated a panel discussion with the three speakers.
In addition to its impressive presenters, the evening included a graduate student poster session, which drew 25 participants from local schools—including Villanova, University of Delaware, University of Pennsylvania and Princeton University—who appreciated the feedback of industry professionals. “The meeting also presented an opportunity to form a Philadelphia-area BIOT graduate student chapter,” notes Dr. Kelly. The first of its kind, the chapter seeks to provide professional development opportunities for student members. Devon Zimmerman, a Villanova PhD student in engineering, is an officer in this newly formed chapter.
Reflecting on the event, Dr. Kelly was extremely pleased with how well everything went. “From the attendance—about 65 people—to the presentations, and the poster session,” he says, “it was all even better than I expected.” Biochemical technology leaders from industry and academia, as well as graduate students, should contact Dr. Kelly for more information about the Philadelphia BIOT chapter and how to become involved.