Director's Message from most recent conference

28th Annual CBB Conference
"Expanding the Frontiers in Biocatalytic Science"

October 22, 2019
The University of Iowa 
Iowa Memorial Union, Iowa City, IA


Welcome to the 28th annual gathering of the students, faculty and guests of the Center for Biocatalysis and Bioprocessing at the University of Iowa.  It is my pleasure to welcome you to an exciting combination of oral presentations and posters highlighting research that is Expanding the Frontiers of Biocatalytic Sciences

I am also pleased to welcome Professor Marty Scholtz who is the newly appointed Vice President for Research at the University of Iowa.  Vice President Scholtz recently visited the Center’s facilities on the University of Iowa Research Park and learned how our expertise in fermentation, downstream processing, and system scale-up is being used to manufacture state-of-the-art protein-based products for a wide variety of clients.  Vice President Scholtz has generously agreed to open the conference this year. 

Our 2019 program was organized with an eye toward demonstrating how research programs that fit under the umbrella of Biocatalytic Sciences are advancing science and technology to better humankind. The morning session begins with a presentation from Professor James Ankrum (Biomedical Engineering at the University of Iowa).  Professor Ankrum will discuss the potential of cell-based therapies and how the way these programmed cells are treated during scaleup and manufacturing can dramatically impact function and efficacy.  Dr. Laura Sawver will then present efforts at Synthorx to develop cancer therapies based on an expanded genetic alphabet strain of E. coli.  Synthorx is using their proprietary genetic alphabet to direct chemical modifications at specific protein sites, thereby modifying function.  Dr. Sawver is the Chief Executive Officer and Director at Synthorx and currently serves on the CBB’s External Advisory Board.  She is also an alumnus from the Departments of Pharmacology and Microbiology at the University of Iowa. 

Professor Jennifer Fiegel (appointments in the Colleges of Engineering and Pharmacy at the University of Iowa) will lead off the second morning session by discussing her research to understand the properties and potential of protein coronas surrounding nano-particles.  Interestingly, the identity of the protein used to form these coronas strongly impacts particle uptake within cells.  The morning session ends with a presentation from Professor Kevin Walker from the Departments of Chemistry, Biochemistry, and Molecular Biology at Michigan State University.  Professor Walker’s expertise includes the creative use of enzymes to synthesize natural product targets in a search for the next generation of pharmaceutical agents. 

The Conference poster session and luncheon will feature 36 posters presented by an array of researchers representing many departments across campus.  In the spirit of collaboration, all participants are encouraged to ask questions and offer suggestions.  The posters will be surrounded by vendors offering the latest product information. 

The afternoon session begins with a forward-looking presentation from Professor Brent Shanks, who is Director of the Center for Biorenewable Chemicals at Iowa State University. Professor Shanks will describe his vision for driving the bioeconomy through strategic methods to create high-value biobased chemicals from the sources of biomass commonly generated in Iowa and other midwestern states.  The Conference concludes with a series of student presentations that highlight exceptional research accomplishments from students supported by either NIH or CBB fellowships.  This year’s fellow-presenters are Pratik Rajesh Chheda (Kern’s group), Danielle Webb (LeFevre’s group) and Nathan Delvaux (Rice’s group). 

It is my pleasure to welcome each of you to this wonderful day of science and engineering.  Please take advantage of the opportunity to learn from others, establish new collaborations, and widen your professional network.

Mark Arnold, Ph.D.

Director; Center for Biocatalysis and Bioprocessing, Office of the Vice President for Research, University of Iowa Research Park, Coralville, IA

Professor and Edwin B. Green Chair in Laser Chemistry, Department of Chemistry, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA