Program Chairs

Mark Berge – Chair
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Kat Allikian – Co-Chair
South Pacific Sera
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Overcoming fermentation failure: Lessons learned

Industrial fermentation brings together a complex set of challenges spanning scale-up, media sourcing, tech transfer, contamination control and organism robustness. Setbacks in scale-up or technology transfer can be extremely costly especially when they slow the launch of new products. Unexpected failures of fully commercialized processes can lead to even larger consequences such as a disruption in the supply chain to customers. As scientists and engineers, we must systematically navigate through these challenges quickly and reestablish robust fermentation processes. This session is a forum for fermentation experts to share their experiences related to overcoming fermentation failures and delivering commercial fermentation processes. The talks will cover a range of industries and both classical and unique challenges related to industrial fermentation.


Tim Cooper – Danimer Scientific
Chris Stowers – DSM

Alternative fermentation systems

Stainless stirred tank bioreactors have been the gold standard for industrial fermentation processes and can be considered a very matured technology with many decades of troubleshooting and optimization. However, not all bioprocesses can be successfully implemented and scaled using this traditional technology, and there is an increasing move to reduce cross-contamination risks and culture volumes while increasing product titres. Thus, this session will cover all aspects of non-conventional approaches to fermentation, their scale-up challenges and solutions, new developments, and control strategies. Topics of presentation include systems modelling, bioreactor designing, process automation, single-use, plug flow, hollow fiber, solid-state, micro-fermentors, and others. Novel approaches in scaling-up alternative fermentation systems, scaling-up by number versus scaling up by volume, and downstream specificities concerning these alternative systems is of particular focus.


Jason Brown – Thermo Fisher Scientific
Silas Villas-Boas – Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology

Fermentation foods for today and tomorrow

Fermented foods are defined as foods and beverages made as a result of desired microbial growth and enzymatic conversion of food components. Fermented foods are staples in human diets globally and encompass thousands of food products made from dairy, meat, cereal/grains, fruit, and vegetables. Despite their current popularity and long history of use, knowledge on the microorganisms and processes required for many food fermentations remains to be discovered. Microbial spoilage and scale-up hurdles remain persistent issues that need to be addressed in order to increase the quantities of these foods made available to consumers. This session will cover the state-of-art on food fermentations, new technologies to improve functional traits of microorganisms, and present ways in which food fermentations may provide innovative solutions for food security, safety, and human health promotion.


Helene Ver Eecke – Metropolitan State University of Denver
David Welch – Synthesis Capital

Natural product biosynthesis

Natural products are a large family of diverse and complex chemical molecules that have roles in both primary and secondary metabolism. Secondary metabolite natural products have proven to be of high commercial and societal value as antimicrobial agents, crop protectants, immunomodulators, as well as antitumour and antiparasitic products. The advent of next-generation sequencing and new exploratory technologies has led to a resurgence of activity in exploring natural products for a wide range of applications. Genome mining has revealed a previously undiscovered richness of biosynthetic potential in novel biosynthetic gene clusters for natural products. Coupling genomics to new technologies for expression, characterization and scale-up is paving the way for accelerated and broader commercialization of natural products. In this session, new approaches to explore and exploit natural product biosynthesis for commercial applications will be highlighted.


Nigel Mouncey – Joint Genome Institute
Esha Khullar – Cargill

Alternative systems to animal cell culture

Where mammalian cell culture has recently dominated the industry for the expression of therapeutic proteins, recent advances in cell engineering have allowed for microbial systems to gain ground. Glycosylation pathways have been engineered into microbial workhorses such as E. coli, P. pastoris, S. cerevisiae to allow for human N-linked and O-linked glycoprotein biosynthesis. These hosts have also gained popularity for antibody fragment production, which lack post-translational modification, but still exhibit antigen binding properties. Microbial organisms offer a simple and cost effective system allows for an attractive alternative to animal cells. This session aims at showcasing recent advances in the development of microbial expression systems that have been used in place of animal cell culture.


Shushil Machhi – AstraZeneca
Firehiwot Tachea – Culture Biosciences

Model driven strain & fermentation process development

The session will focus on systems for – and data-driven approaches to – studying complex biological processes. We will see examples of how challenges associated with reaching commercial metrics in fermentation and cell culture processes are handled using design of experiments, statistical analysis of data, and computational modeling. These tools greatly accelerate the ability to generate cell lines, predict process outcomes, and aid process development. Also discussed are advances within computational approaches to strain design and “omics” approaches to understand processes at the transcriptome, proteome, metabolome, and fluxome levels. Finally, the large amounts of data collected from both process monitoring and “omics” experiments are amenable to machine learning approaches that can elucidate non-intuitive relationships between inputs and outputs.


Phil Ramsey – Pedictum Inc.
Steve Van Dien – Persephone Biosciences
Mads Orla Kaiser-Albæk – Novozymes A/S

Future faces of fermentation

Fermentation technologies are as old as human history, including ancient fermented foods such as wine and bread or fermented medicinal herbs. It was in the 1920s that Dr. Fleming’s accidental discovery of penicillin which revolutionized human health care and exponentially expanded the fermentation industry. During the 1980s, mammalian cell-culture technologies gave biopharmaceuticals a new face while fermentation held its ground with more basic medicines such as recombinant insulin and antibiotics. Presently, fermentation processes are used to produce a range of value-added products such as food additives, nutraceuticals, therapeutics, and fermented food products, with many more on the way. Successful exploitation of these novel fermentation technologies involves the evolving knowledge of industrial microbiology and bioprocess engineering be passed on to the next generation of fermentation scientists and enthusiasts. In this round table session, we will have an open discussion regarding workforce development platforms that will benefit students and professionals who are interested in novel fermentation technologies and routes to integrate the learnings into their careers.


Michelle Lewis Stack Family Center for Biopharmaceutical Education & Training, Albany College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences
Ehsan Mahdinia – Stack Family Center for Biopharmaceutical Education & Training, Albany College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences

Poster Session

Poster presentations are an integral part of the RAFT® technical program as it showcases late-breaking developments, extends the technical scope of the program, and provides opportunities for in-depth one-on-one discussions. This year’s RAFT® poster session will highlight new research and industrial applications in cultivation strategies, bioremediation, strain optimization, first principles modeling, analysis, bio-based fuels, and feedstocks.


Nancy Dowe – NREL
Karen Esmonde-White – Endress+Hauser