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Process Modelling and Optimisation of Biomolecular Separations for Advanced Pharmaceutical Manufacturing

Project Description

Rapid design and deployment of efficient biopharmaceutical production lines in light of exogenous uncertainty worldwide is a pressing societal need, as global health and safety risks loom, new pathogens appear and aggressive infectious diseases induce a demand of vaccines and reliable therapeutics in a matter of months (or even weeks) as opposed to years. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recognises that numerous biotherapeutic products succeed in treating many life-threatening chronic diseases, but their manufacturing cost remains prohibitive, thus limiting their use and spread, particularly in developing countries. Unlike small molecules, our quantitative understanding of biomolecular phase equilibria and behaviour in multicomponent mixtures and complex fluids is most frequently very limited, rendering biopharma production intensification very challenging.

This PhD research project at the University of Edinburgh (UoE) School of Engineering will employ advanced process modelling and optimisation methods in order to quantitatively understand and evaluate biomolecular separations, with a view to scaling them up towards design and operational optimisation of advanced biopharmaceutical manufacturing. Current research efforts to this end promise a significant worldwide impact if successful, since suppressing production costs paves the way for affordable access to critical healthcare.

This project will develop computational tools and systematic methodologies for biopharma process intensification by selecting biomolecules of high therapeutic value, reviewing constitutive equations and quantitative theories for biomolecular phase equilibria, stability and behaviour (e.g. crystallisation, agglomeration, degradation) in complex mixtures, and developing process modelling platforms for technoeconomic optimisation of biopharmaceutical separations in manufacturing.

The Gerogiorgis Research Group at the School of Engineering (University of Edinburgh) employs high-fidelity first-principles modelling and advanced numerical methods for systematic synthesis, design and optimisation of complex chemical processes, with emphasis on continuous pharmaceutical manufacturing and comparative technoeconomic analyses for pharmaceuticals, bioproducts, food/drinks and energy. Their research is recognized with multiple IChemE Global Award distinctions, an Academy of Athens research publication prize, and a recent Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng) Industrial Fellowship.

Funding Notes

Eligibility: An advanced undergraduate degree (MEng or Dipl. Eng.) in Engineering (2:1 or higher), preferably with prior (Dipl./MEng thesis) research experience, is required. Strong numerical modelling (e.g. MATLAB) skills are essential; moreover, process simulation and optimisation (e.g. gPROMS/ASPEN/UNISIM) skills are desirable.

How good is research at University of Edinburgh in General Engineering?
(joint submission with Heriot-Watt University)

FTE Category A staff submitted: 91.80

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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