Biology as Enabling Science of the Chemical and Pharmaceutical Industries
Following its transformation from a descriptive to a molecular science, biology is emerging as the enabling science of the Chemical and pharmaceutical industries in the 21st century. This process is catalyzed by dramatic advances in the field of genomics, new high-throughput technologies probing at unprecedented detail the physiological state of cells and tissues, and enormous opportunities in medicine as well as the chemical, materials and pharmaceuticals industries. These developments are fueled by an ever increasing government and industrial funding that helps attract to this area top scientific talent and creates a continuous stream of technological applications. However, besides the apparent scientific excitement and entrepreneurial activity the introduction of bio-based processes is a disruptive process that is poorly understood and difficult to manage. As a result, these developments have significant implications for industry and academia.
In this talk I will review key developments in biological research, in particular in the field of genomics and genomics-based technologies. I will then illustrate with some examples the technological implications of these developments and their significance in developing a new paradigm for product discovery and bioprocess development. The role of chemical-biological engineers will be underlined in facilitating these developments as it is defined by the engineering ethos of integration, quantification and relevance. These qualities will be increasingly important as biology evolves into an integrated, quantitative science and weaves its way into every day applications of medical and industrial nature.
Department of Chemical Engineering, MIT