Departmental resources

UCL Department of Biochemical Engineering

The Department has recently undergone a period of transition with its move to a single location completed this summer. All resources are now housed within the footprint of the Bernard Katz building and comprise 2500m2 of the most modern and sophisticated facilities for research, education and training.  The department’s resources provide for studies at all levels: from school students undertaking Nuffield science bursary training or similar; through first year undergraduates; to those working in the international bioindustry undertaking MBI® Training modules. Our bioprocessing facilities are complemented by a range of advanced analytical devices for the detailed characterisation of chemical pharmaceuticals, biopharmaceuticals and human cells for therapy. It is the experience gained from working in these world class facilities that makes graduates and researchers from the department highly sought after.

Central to the department’s whole bioprocess theme are the large scale bioprocessing facilities based in the unique and purpose-designed Advanced Centre for Biochemical Engineering (ACBE). This building was the result of a £20 million investment with funding from industry, government and key foundations. The ACBE supports full pilot scale bioprocess trains, from fermentation through downstream processing to formulation. These enable studies at scales relevant to the bioindustry. Studies in the ACBE underpin the large scale verification of findings from the key research programmes in Macromolecular therapies and in small molecules.

The Centre for Micro Biochemical Engineering was constructed in 2002 at a cost of £4.5 million won from competitively funded research grants and a Gatsby Foundation award. These laboratory and computing suites allow research and training on the integration of rapid small-scale experimental studies with data mining and computer modelling. A range of robotic systems facilitates the rapid engineering of cells and proteins and the high speed acquisition of bioprocess information at the microwell scale. In this way research can progress from initial experimentation to detailed bioprocess design with predictions of large scale performance being checked against process scale runs in the ACBE.

Further investments since 2005 totalling nearly £2 million, including a competitively won Royal Society-Wolfson award, helped establish a Regenerative Medicine Bioprocessing (RegenMed) Unit and related laboratories for the automated analysis of complex cells and tissues. These facilities underpin studies on the growth of human cells and tissue outside the body to be used in repair being undertaken as part of the RegenMed research programme. A £2 million investment in a Bioprocess Microfluidics facility enables studies on the parallel acquisition of bioprocess data on precious biological materials, such as new medicines or human cells for therapy, at an even smaller scale.

2011 saw a further £1m investment to create a unique Responsive Bioprocessing Facility for the study of single-use components in biomanufacture. A rolling programme of minor projects is used to maintain the departmental facilities at the very forefront. The net value of the resources stands at over £50m and is central to ensuring the primacy of the department in the field.

Page last modified on 14 oct 14 11:45