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UCL Department of Biochemical Engineering

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Dr Frank Baganz

Associate Professor

Dept of Biochemical Engineering

Faculty of Engineering Science

Joined UCL
1st Mar 1998

Research summary

Frank’s research is focused on modelling, engineering and scale-up/down of fermentation, cell culture and biocatalytic processes. A major aim of the research is to mimic the environmental conditions that the cells are exposed to at the large/industrial scale in miniature bioreactor systems in order to better understand the cell response and thereby improve the manufacturing process using computer simulations and experimental approaches. In collaboration with Professor Gary Lye, he pioneered the use of microwell-based techniques to acquire information about fermentation and bioconversion. In particular, he established the engineering fundamentals of mixing and oxygen transfer in microwells and developed novel miniaturised bioreactors. His research also demonstrated the feasibility of predictive scale up from micro/mini reactors to lab scale reactors using established methods. He continues this work as part of the IMRC in Bioprocessing where he developed a platform for scale-down of industrial fermentation and cell culture processes in miniature bioreactors and microwells. In recognition for his contributions to this area he received the 2010 Pharmaceuticals Division Plenary Award of the AIChE. The micro/mini bioreactor work is complemented by detailed characterisation of fermentation and cell culture processes at lab scale and its integration with downstream processing for processing of macromolecules. Frank is a co-investigator of the multi-faculty Bioconversion-Chemistry-Engineering Interface programme (BiCE) led by Prof. Gary Lye that is concerned with the development of novel tools integrating chemistry, biology and engineering to accelerate development of biocatalytic processes. The main focus of his research is on modelling and optimisation of enzyme-catalysed reactions and construction of de novo pathways for synthesis of complex chiral molecules. To enable this he developed an immobilised enzyme microreactor for rapid determination of enzyme kinetics and analysis of de novo pathways. One of the aims is to identify enzyme combinations for integration into whole cell systems that could be used for industrial applications. The metabolic engineering of the whole cell biocatalysts is carried out in collaboration with Professor John Ward (Institute of Structural and Molecular Biology) and Dr Darren Nesbeth. The enginering work is aided by use of microwell approaches and statistical experimental design methods to identify process bottlenecks. Recently he established research in the area of algal biotechnology. Working in close collaboration with Dr Saul Purton (ISMB) he is assessing the potential of microalgae for recombinant protein synthesis and the production and recovery of biofuels using scale-down approaches for cell and process characterisation. Funding for the above research has come from the UK BBSRC, EPSRC and a range of company collaborators.

Teaching summary

Frank’s current teaching activities focuses on fermentation and bioreactor design/engineering and cover both undergraduate and Masters level degree course programmes operated by the Department. These includes co-ordination of the Bioreactor Enginering and Fermentation module and a new Masters-level course on Sustainable Bioprocesses and Biorefineries. He also teaches on a number of the department's post-experience MBI training modules covering aspects of fermentation, metabolic engineering and Design of Experiments. In addition he co-ordinates the MBI® module of Rapid Fermentation Process Design. In terms of administrative roles Frank is MSc programme co-ordinator and Tutor for the MSc Engineering Stream students which involves monitoring academic progress and pastoral care. He also chairs the Departmental Safety Committee.

Education

University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology
PhD, Yeast Molecular Biology and Fermentation | 1997
Fachhochschule Ostfriesland, Emden
Dipl. Ing., Biotechnology and Biochemical Engineering | 1994
Publications