Major advances in areas such as genomics, proteomics and transcriptomics combined with high throughput screening and informatics are leading to new and exciting understanding of the molecular basis of disease. These offer the potential for new drug discoveries for treatment of many life threatening and debilitating diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, cancers, heart diseases, rheumatoid arthritis and many more. The translation of potential new drug discoveries into affordable, safe and efficacious medicines and therapies presents a host of challenges that go beyond and above discovery, and require a talent pool of scientists and engineers with a strong and disciplined knowledge base at the interface between discovery and biomanufacturing. Biopharmaceutical processing is the discipline that holistically combines all the components necessary to translate life science discoveries into commercial products. These components include: bioproduct and bioprocess research, development and characterization, biomanufacturing platform development, bioprocess modeling and scale up/scale-down, validation, quality and regulatory compliance, and process transfer to biomanufacturing.

Biopharmaceutical processing is a subject of high professional standing and its contributions to human health care and economic growth over the past four decades have been phenomenal. For example, as a snapshot, in 2012 the 12 top selling drugs included eight biologics (see table below) with total sales of US $56.125 billion.

Rank
Drug
Disease
Company
2012 Sales
1
Humira (Adalimumab)
Rheumatoid arthritis, Psoriasis, Crohn’s disease
AbbVie
$9.265B
2
Remicade (Infliximab)
Psoriasis, Crohn’s disease, Rheumatoid arthritis
Johnson & Johnson
$8.215B
3
Enbrel (Etanercept)
Psoriasis, Rheumatoid arthritis
Amgen & Pfizer
$7.963B
4
Rituxan/MabThera (Rituximab)
Leukemia,Lymphoma, Transplant rejection, Rheumatoid arthritis
Roche
$7.285B
5
lantus (insulin)
Diabetes
Sanofi
$6.648B
6
Herceptin (Trastuzumab)
Breast Cancer
Roche
$6.397B
7
Avatin (bevacizumab)
Brain Tumors, Cancers of Kidney, colon, ovary, lung
Roche
$6.260B
8
Neulasta (pegfilgrastim)
White blood cell deficiency following chemotherapy
Amgen & Pfizer
$4.092B

Adapted from: The Review of American Pharmaceutical Business & technology, Oct. 30, 2013

Biopharmaceutical process engineers are in high demand. For example, the chart below shows that in the U.S., employer demand for biopharmaceutical engineering-trained individuals increased 87 percent from first half of 2010 through the end of 2014.

MEng employer demands

87%

Growth in Employer Demand, 2010-14

"I chose the MEng program because it was technical. After being in the program, I wanted to go into bioprocessing development. The lab is my happy place, and that’s where you do the work."
Sarah Sine
Bioprocess Scientist, Cell Care Therapeutics
Master of Engineering in Biopharmaceutical Processing, '18