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PhD Scholarship in Bioprocessing - Project 1

University of Queensland

Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

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Job Posted: 11/09/2017

Job Category:

Education / Research

Job description:

The Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology

PhD Scholarships in Bioprocessing - Membrane-based separations for biopharmaceutical purification

The University of Queensland's Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN) is a dynamic multi-disciplinary research institute dedicated to developing technology to alleviate societal problems in the areas of health, energy, manufacturing and environmental sustainability. AIBN brings together the skills of more than 250 world-class researchers complimented by an extensive suite of integrated facilities, working at the intersection of biology, chemistry, engineering and computer modelling. With a reputation for delivering translational science, AIBN conducts research at the forefront of emerging technologies, and has developed strong collaborations with leading members of industry, academia and government. AIBN goes beyond basic research to develop the growth of innovative industries for the benefit of the Queensland and Australian economies.

Information about the Institute can be accessed on the Institute’s web site at http://www.aibn.uq.edu.au/.

The ARC Training Centre for Biopharmaceutical Innovation (CBI), located within the AIBN is enhancing Australia’s bio/pharmaceutical capabilities through dedicated research and development programs with leading industrial partners. The Centre conducts research in three thematic areas: new biopharmaceutical and diagnostic agent discovery; development of mammalian cells as factories for recombinant protein production; and advanced manufacturing of biopharmaceuticals. The CBI is supported by industry partners CSL Limited, GE Healthcare, the Australian Red Cross Blood Service (ARCBS) and Patheon, part of Thermo Fisher Scientific.

As a condition of the ARC Industrial Transformation Training Centre funding scheme, students will spend periods of time at Patheon Biologics Ltd based in Brisbane and USA that total at least 12 months over a four year period.

The project

Membrane-based separations for biopharmaceutical purification

This project will be offered in collaboration with CBI partner Patheon, part of Thermo Fisher Scientific & GE Healthcare.

Biopharmaceutical manufacturing is a complex process that utilizes a living system to produce recombinant products such as antibodies, therapeutic proteins and vaccines. The biopharmaceutical industry has increased in importance as more therapeutic agents for treating cancer and autoimmune diseases have reached the market. With such lifesaving biologics in market and more in the pipeline, the total global pharma sales is expected to grow at an average of 4.4 % annually to reach a projected value of $1.2 trillion in 2020. The industry spends between 70-80% of production cost on the downstream processing of these therapeutics and hence there is a need for a more cost efficient downstream process to achieve the projected growth rate.

Traditional packed-bed chromatography media, which is generally expensive, is widely used for protein purification in downstream processing. Research indicates that membrane chromatography offers some advantages over chromatography media, including overcoming solute diffusion limitations and as a result helps in reducing time and cost. However, there is very little research that investigates the feasibility, scalability and process economics of membrane technologies in a manufacturing set-up. To address this gap, this project will investigate the integration of membrane technologies into biopharmaceutical manufacturing processes using model biopharmaceuticals.

Objectives:

  • Develop and optimize affinity, ion-exchange, mixed mode and hydrophobic based membrane chromatography for purifying monoclonal antibodies and other recombinant proteins of interest.
  • Compare process economics of traditional packed-bed and membrane chromatography.
  • Evaluate scalability of membrane-based separation process.

The successful candidate will receive systematic training in biopharmaceutical downstream processing and exposure to working in an industry environment. The candidate will be housed in an excellent research environment with the latest laboratory facilities and have the opportunity to gain skills in membrane chromatography (ion exchange, hydrophobic interaction, affinity and mixed mode), filtration (depth filtration, ultrafiltration and tangential flow filtration), protein characterization and process scale- up.

The persons

A PhD is about learning new skills, how to do research, and becoming an independent researcher. We recognise that students will come to us from different backgrounds in order to learn these new skills and we welcome interest from domestic (i.e. Australian and New Zealand) students and international students.

Background in molecular biology, bioprocessing, protein purification or protein chemistry is desirable.

Mandatory requirements for international applicants:

1. At least 2 high quality research publications or 2 years of relevant industry experience

2. Excellent academic performance evidenced by a high Grade Point Average (GPA); and

3. International applicants must meet the University of Queensland's English Language Proficiency (ELP) requirements, detailed at http://www.uq.edu.au/grad-school/english-language-proficiency-requirements

Remuneration

The base stipend will be at the rate of AUD $26,682 per annum tax-free for three years with two possible six month extensions in approved circumstances.

Enquiries

To discuss this role please contact Associate Professor Linda Lua via email l.lua@uq.edu.au.

To apply for this role please use the Apply button below and quote the Project Title above in your Cover Letter.