Professor William J. Kelly, PhD, director of Villanova University’s graduate program in Biochemical Engineering, recently traveled to Nice, France to attend the third European Congress of Applied Biotechnology (ECAB3) meeting, which was held in conjunction with the 10th European Congress of Chemical Engineering (ECCE10). Dr. Kelly was accompanied by two doctoral students and several other US scientists and engineers. Their participation was supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation, on which Dr. Kelly was the lead author.
This NSF-supported group, consisting of 12 members, represented the US as part of the Biochemical Technology Division (BIOT) of the American Chemical Society. Among them were academics from Columbia University, Carnegie Mellon, San Jose State, the University of Delaware and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Industry representatives from Merck and MedImmune also participated. Several of the members delivered presentations in the areas of Biopharmaceuticals, Drug Purification and Metabolic Engineering.
ECAB3 and ECCE10 afforded BIOT members the opportunity to plan for collaborations between US and European bio-scientists and generate ideas for the future. Dr. Kelly led an interactive meeting that allowed the US contingent to “brainstorm” with their EU counterparts, and then pitch their best ideas via a “Shark-tank” format. Dr. Kelly smiled as he recalled the passion with which some of the European scientists embraced this approach, which they were not familiar with prior to the meeting. The best ideas to move forward with, as voted by the group, were focused on increasing interaction between graduate students in the US and Europe. Regular virtual meetings and webinars were proposed to encourage technical and cultural exchange. In addition, a biopharmaceutical facility design competition was suggested to foster camaraderie.
Dr. Kelly reflects on the meeting, “It was a great and unique opportunity for such strong groups of US and EU Biochemical Engineering faculty and industry scientists to come together. I’m looking forward to what lies ahead.” Once the spring semester is underway, Dr. Kelly is looking forward to coordinating the first virtual meeting between US and European graduate students.