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Chemical Engineering Seminar
Dr. Nick Vecchiarello
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Faculty Candidate Research
Biomanufacturing is a multi-billion-dollar industry responsible for reliably producing life-saving medicines such as recombinant proteins, vaccines, and cell therapies to meet growing patient needs. Historically, the diversity among these therapies has been largely limited to monoclonal antibodies and the industry has created hard-coded infrastructures and platforms to support this molecular class. The recent growth in new therapeutic formats along with the need to rapidly manufacture these medicines at unprecedented scales in the era of COVID, however, has created a call for modernization in bioprocessing. In particular, downstream purification is a major bottleneck in this space and there is a need to develop platformable strategies to purify therapeutics not amenable to traditional platform frameworks. In this seminar, I will describe the development and implementation of a set of experimental and computational tools and strategies that we created to improve the speed and efficiency in rational design of biotherapeutic purification processes. We will also explore the complex adsorptive properties of new mixed-mode chromatography resins and describe our mathematical frameworks for understanding and quantifying their behaviors for efficient incorporation into downstream processes for a wide range of protein therapeutics. Finally, we will discuss strategies and opportunities for designing the next generation of sorptive separation materials functionalized with peptides and peptide-like chemical moieties optimized for purifying emerging therapeutic modalities.
Nick Vecchiarello received his BS in Chemical Engineering from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2013. He then pursued his PhD with Dr. Steven Cramer at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy NY where he studied the behaviors of biotherapeutics on mixed-mode chromatographic supports. After receiving his PhD, Nick spent two years at Amgen as a purification scientist working on developing a new purification platform for antibodies as well as on process design for a late-stage biologic. Inspired by some of the pressing challenges that the bioprocessing industry faces, Nick chose to pivot to academia with the goal of addressing these challenges in his independent career. He is now working with Dr. Bradley Pentelute in the Chemistry Department at MIT and is learning techniques in peptide library synthesis to design peptide nucleic acid constructs for the half-life extension of a therapeutic treatment for Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
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