2018 Ribbon Cutting: The Sartorius Fermentation Gallery (left to right) Richard Bundy, Reinhard Vogt, Mary Lavin, Neil Sharkey — Penn State, University Park, PA
Penn State's Strategic Plan Provides Context for Cell Culture
Penn State is one of the world’s top universities in the sciences and healthcare-related fields. Home to a thriving community of faculty, strengthened by interdisciplinary initiatives, Penn State continues to seek new ways to positively impact the lives of people. Our Strategic Plan builds on five strategic imperatives. Two areas most relevant to the concept of a cell culture facility are:
Biotechnology is one field where our potential for impact intersects with these priorities. The field has enormous potential for improving human health through innovative biotherapies, and we provide a foundation of institutional knowledge upon which to build transformational initiatives.
The Partnership Takes Shape
Within this context, an institutional relationship with Sartorius Stedim is taking shape. Our mutual goal of bringing creative minds together, at all levels within Penn State and Sartorius, has the potential to foster technological breakthroughs and create educational and research environments that highlight the technologies and processes commonly used in leading company settings.
Penn State developed a framework for transforming biotechnology education and research at the university. The phase one initiatives completed in 2017-2018 included:
1. Establishing the Center of Excellence in Industrial Biotechnology (the Center), part of the Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences (Huck)
2. Creating the CSL Behring Fermentation facility located in the Agricultural Engineering Building — home to the Sartorius Fermentation Gallery
2016: Setting the foundation for phase one
Penn State’s partnership with Sartorius began in 2016 when Mark Signs, currently co-director, CSL Behring Fermentation Facility, traveled to the Sartorius Application Center in Bohemia, NY to explore and test cutting-edge equipment for the Fermentation Facility.
“At the Sartorius Application Center, I saw a broad equipment portfolio that exceeded our requirements and provided a platform for training the next leaders in bioprocessing. This meeting gave me the opportunity to critically review their technologies, and they were serious in developing a long-term relationship with Penn State."—Mark Signs, co-director, CSL Behring Fermentation Facility
2018: Sartorius makes its first major gift to Penn State
In 2018, Sartorius made its first major gift to a United States university, presenting Penn State with equipment worth $435,000. This state-of-the-art bioprocessing equipment laid the foundation for the Sartorius Fermentation Gallery.
“We formalized the relationship in 2018. The idea was to create a hub to promote innovation and biotechnology at Penn State — a thriving university that enrolls almost 100,000 students a year. They have a significant global alumni presence and number of students who matriculate on an annual basis. Sartorius' on-campus presence enables students in biotech and life sciences access to industry-relevant technology. So, when they graduate and begin their careers, they have experiences they may immediately apply.”—Mary Jane Guy, head of sales — eastern region, Sartorius
Since then, Penn State’s relationship with Sartorius is a cornerstone in the progress of the Center.
"Sartorius is investing and working with Penn State because we share a common mission to educate students, empower scientists, enable engineers and accelerate developments in life science and bioprocessing. The partnership's main goal is to inspire the next generation of pharma-biotech employees with innovative tools and solutions, and utilize the center as a training and development hub for our employees and the industry. We plan to collaborate with Penn State to leverage their resources to support customers and the industry to make scientific progress to improve patient outcomes.”—Mary Lavin, president, Sartorius
In the second phase, the vision included the establishment of a cell culture facility, under the leadership of Huck. This facility will serve as the focal point for delivering hands-on training in cell culture to our students and employees of our corporate partners, as well as providing researchers across several Penn State disciplines access to a twenty-first-century lab environment.
Why cell culture?
A survey of University faculty revealed these interests for specialized research support and training in the planned cell culture facility:
- Creating therapeutic cell products through gene editing
- Developing transformative technologies enabling the manufacture of high quantity, high quality and affordable therapeutic cells
- Evolving techniques to control proliferation and differentiation for regenerative medicine
- Graduate level: Bioprocessing, lab-based courses, drafting application papers on facility equipment
- Undergraduate level: Working with antibodies, stem cells, gene editing and in vitro fertilization
- With materials developed in a cell culture facility, Cryo-EM evaluation of antibody and drug interactions with ligands
2020: Sartorius presents a significant gift to Penn State
Penn State and Sartorius announce that Sartorius committed $1.5 million to create the Sartorius Cell Culture Facility, the Center’s second-collaborating facility, and only the second named Huck core research facility.
Generating visibility at a leading research university
Between the Sartorius Fermentation Gallery within the CSL Behring Fermentation Facility and the Sartorius Cell Culture Facility, Penn State becomes a leading resource for Pennsylvania through our Commonwealth campus locations, the Northeast biotechnology corridor and globally via our collaborative university research partners and our alumni numbering over 700,000.
Research and technical application projects will expand the knowledge in our research community and beyond, highlighting the capabilities of Sartorius' technologies.
A pipeline of future leaders
The vision for the Center and the Sartorius Cell Culture Facility is to create a unique educational environment — an integrated, energetic culture of learning and research happening in one place. Students at different levels and from multiple disciplines will be working together with faculty from various units, all in close contact with Sartorius and other biotechnology companies.
However, this project is about more than just training some of the nation’s best entry-level employees for the biotechnology industry; it is also about accelerating the path to leadership. We are striving to create a program that provides students with the maturity to be creative at addressing both technical and relevant business issues.
“This gift from Sartorius is a tremendous investment in biotechnology at Penn State and an incredible step forward in our organizations’ partnership. Across our University’s $1billion research enterprise, few areas have as much potential for widespread impact as biotechnology. Sartorius is ensuring that Penn State remains a leader in this field, not just by conducting groundbreaking research but also in preparing our graduates to become leaders themselves. We are deeply grateful to Sartorius for their generosity and vision.”— Lora G. Weis, senior vice president for research, Penn State
About Penn State
Penn State is a top-ranked research university and Pennsylvania's sole land-grant institution, founded with a mission of high-quality teaching, expert research and global service — a community more than 700,000 strong — driven to make a difference.
US Research University
The Sartorius Group is an international pharmaceutical and laboratory equipment supplier, headquartered in Göttingen, Germany, dedicated to empowering scientists and engineers to simplify and accelerate progress in life science and bioprocessing, enabling the development of new therapies and more affordable medicine. The Sartorius Group manages its businesses in two divisions: Bioprocess Solutions and Lab Products & Solutions.
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