Biotechnology and Pharmaceuticals Development
Recombinant protein production lies at the core of the biotechnology revolution. Recombinant proteins such as humanized chimeric antibodies, human growth hormone, human insulin and a variety of industrial enzymes can been expressed in the yeast Pichia pastoris, a premier organism for eucaryotic protein expression. Pichia pastoris grows rapidly on inexpensive substrates to very high cell densities, and can produce biologically active foreign proteins of higher eukaryotic origin since it performs important posttranslational protein modifications, including proteolytic processing, disulfide bridge formation and glycosylation.
Regenerative medicine is aimed at using biological solutions to restore function to damaged or diseased biological systems. Work in this field could potentially yield viable tissues or organs for replacement, as well as therapies for a number of diseases. Stem cell therapies and gene therapy are among the most promising research avenues in regenerative medicine. Stem cells (adult, embryonic, and induced pluripotent stem) and gene therapy approaches have generated enormous interest, offering treatment possibilities where none exist at present or where current paradigms are inadequate to address the underlying problem.
Biofuels, global warming, health care, and bioterrorism are some of the greatest challenges facing mankind. These can be successfully addressed only if a sufficient number of people are skilled in the area of bioprocessing. The successful culture of living cells to manufacture products (bioprocessing) will play an increasingly important role in our future. Even though there is an increasing demand for skilled bioprocessing professionals, there has been limited expansion in educational programs. Many of the current programs have labs that are decades out of date as compared to the leading industrial firms, and they fail to attract large numbers of students into the field.
Medical Diagnostics and Devices
Medical devices are used for the diagnosis of disease or other conditions, or in the cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease. This broad and interdisciplinary field includes the development of instrumentation, software, and bioassays, and requires knowledge in the areas of biochemistry, molecular biology, engineering, physics and computer science. Related assays, instruments, and algorithms are also applicable in fundamental research, in drug and biomarker discovery, and in personalized medicine.
Systems Biology and Computational Biology
Recent advances in genomics, proteomics, and in computational and mathematical modeling are promising a better understanding of cell dynamics at the molecular level. Mathematical and computational analysis of biological networks aims to model the regulatory mechanisms underlying cell function, predict the biological response to specific perturbations (as in diseases or in stress), and develop methods to integrate, quantify, and analyze intra- and intercellular interactions. We develop methods to process and evaluate genome- and proteome-wide experimental data, model signal transduction pathways, and analyze networks of evolving genes and proteins mathematically. We are also investigating what unitary analogs of regulatory modules can be identified in biological systems.
KGI has a vibrant research program to explore industry dynamics and ethical considerations within the life science industries. Research projects of KGI’s business faculty are often linked to important public policy issues, such as “Why have San Diego and San Francisco been more successful than Los Angeles in creating a cluster of new biotech companies and attracting large pharmaceutical firms?” or “When does it make sense for society to cure rare diseases?” Faculty with expertise in computational and mathematical methods are applying their expertise to better understand industry dynamics, for example, by using game theory and evolutionary approaches to understand the dynamics of stock market trading.