Distinguished Speaker Seminar Apr 17 – Michael Betenbaugh

Title: Mixing Chemical Engineering, Systems Biology, and Metabolic Engineering for a Fruitful Biomanufacturing Broth

Date and Time: Wednesday, Apr 17. Refreshments served at 10:50 a.m. Seminar starts at 11 a.m.

Location: MacLeod 2018


AMBIC, the Advanced Mammalian Biomanufacturing Innovation Center (AMBIC.org), is an academic-government-industrial cooperative dedicated to addressing early-stage research and development challenges in mammalian cell culture biomanufacturing.  AMBIC industrial members include large integrated biopharma companies, manufacturers, suppliers, analytics companies, and consultants.  Government participants include NIST along with NSF, who supports operations for the consortium.  Focal areas of the center include:  1) understanding industrially relevant biology, 2) process monitoring and control, and 3) consensus and standardization for advancing upstream mammalian cell culture bioprocessing. 

Industrial and federal mentors identify scientific and engineering bottlenecks that limit the production of pharmaceuticals used to treat cancer and other diseases, resulting in a call for proposal to academic members. Academic researchers then propose technologies and then, advised by industrial mentors, work to develop precompetitive solutions to improve the quantity and quality of biopharma production. These activities have resulted in the start-up and execution of over 30 active and graduated research projects under way at the academic participating institutions.  Active and graduated projects include development of standardized community reference cell lines, process, and media for recombinant proteins production and gene therapy products.   In addition, cell line stability, robustness, and productivity are being investigated for Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) and HEK mammalian hosts. Other projects include understanding and characterizing the epigenome, identification of inhibitory wastes and corresponding metabolic production pathways, metabolic engineering of producer cell lines to simplify media formulations, adaptation and application of genome scale models to optimize feeding, evaluation of nutrient solubilities using thermodynamic principles, and prediction of chemical complexation states. Novel analytic tools, sensors, and instrumentation are being developed and implemented for characterizing and improving biomanufacturing processes.

Results from our current and graduated projects will be highlighted in this presentation to illustrate the scope of AMBIC endeavors across the mammalian cell culture biomanufacturing ecosystems. By bringing together a community of academic, government, and industrial partners to pinpoint key challenges, AMBIC is advancing technology innovation in early-stage mammalian biomanufacturing, ensuring the development and implementation of robust bioproduction processes for the next generation of biologics.


Prof. Michael Betenbaugh is among the world’s leading thinkers and practitioners of mammalian biomanufacturing. His work integrates systems biology with cellular, metabolic, and biochemical engineering for eukaryotic biotechnology applications.

Prof. Betenbaugh is one of the original pioneers of eukaryotic metabolic engineering and has made multiple landmark contributions in improving the efficiency and effectiveness of mammalian and insect production hosts, in fundamental discoveries in glycobiology, in applying systems biology to understand mammalian cells in biotechnology and biomedicine, and in advancing knowledge about sustainable algal bioprocessing for biofuels and other products.

His most significant achievements include the application of chaperones and foldases to increase protein folding and product yields from insect cells; glycoengineering in insect and mammalian hosts to produce sialylated high-value glycoproteins; anti-apoptosis engineering to increase mammalian survival and productivity; genomics, proteomics, glycomics, and systems biology models of mammalian hosts; microRNA analysis and genome engineering in mammalian cells; and advancing sustainable microalgae processing.

Prof. Betenbaugh has been bestowed with the D.I.C. Wang Award for Excellence in Biochemical Engineering (2017), the Marvin J. Johnson (2015), and James Van Lanen awards from the American Chemical Society’s Division of Biochemical Technology, and the Cell Culture Engineering Award (2010. These distinctions are a testament to the impact that he has had on biomanufacturing.