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UC San Diego Extension to Hold Microbial Fermentation Workshop


One of the fastest growing sectors in industrial biotechnology is microbial fermentation, which has been instrumental in developing new fuels, food, chemicals and antibiotics. To help more professionals understand and unlock the potential of microbial fermentation, the University of California San Diego Extension in partnership with UC San Diego’s Center for Continuing Education in Biosciences is holding its fourth annual Microbial Fermentation Workshop Aug. 17-19, 2016.  

The three-day program will feature industry experts who have a combined 150 years of experience working in industry, said Jeff Lievense, executive vice president of process technology at Genomatica, a local biotech firm.

“We will be offering lifetimes of expertise in three days,” said Lievense, one of the workshop’s six instructors. “There are people around the world who can benefit from this workshop, from biologists to business executives looking to capitalize on all the advances of this strategic technology.”

In its essence, microbial fermentation is the transformation of organic substances such as bacteria, yeast, fungi and algae into other products such as beer, fabric and vitamins. Advances in the field are reducing development
times and costs, making an array of new and mind-bending innovations possible.

Participants in the workshop will have a front-row seat to those advances and the underlying fundamental tools through interactive training, case studies and one-on-one consulting.
In addition, this year’s workshop will include a new twist – an afternoon field trip to White Labs, the ground-breaking San Diego pure yeast and fermentation company with an international clientele. The visit to White Labs will involve making – and tasting – different batches of beer while changing yeast variables to examine how such changes alter the outcome.

“This field trip allows people taking the course to learn but still have fun while learning,” said Karen Fortmann, White Labs’ senior research scientist.

The three-day workshop is one of the few, if only, such workshops in the nation that focuses solely on fermentation for industrial applications. The course aims to keep participants abreast of the quickly evolving field, with case studies and discussion of current trends. Continuing advances in the field are making it practical and beneficial to apply biotech to a growing range of products.

The industrial-biotech industry is estimated to generate more than $100 billion in revenues for products such as biofuels, enzymes, biochemical and other biomaterials. At an annual growth rate of roughly 10 percent, the industry is expanded at a rate far greater than the U.S. economy as a whole.

And that growth is expected to continue as companies seek more sustainable, earth-friendly ways to create products ranging from clothes to toys to paint solvents. Millions of products that are now made from petroleum-based synthetics can instead be created from natural and environmentally friendly materials using microbial fermentation. Recently, toymaker LEGO announced plans to hire more than 100 people to meet its goal of finding sustainable replacements for its fossil-based plastic products by 2030.

The workshop is intended for scientific, engineering and business professionals with some prior fermentation-related experience who wish to expand their current knowledge; add essential tools for fermentation design development and scale-up; and improve their ability in practical problem solving. Some knowledge of chemistry, microbiology, biochemistry and molecular biology is recommended.

The workshop is designed to provide a deep dive into bioreactor principles and bioprocess development.
Students will learn:

  • the biological principles behind microbial metabolism, growth and genetic modification

  • the principles behind bioreactor design, operation, monitoring control and scale-up

  • how to improve fermentation performance through statistical design and analysis of experiments

  • a structured approach to downstream bioprocess design 

  • how to solve real-world, industrial fermentation problems


  • James Golden, Ph.D., professor, molecular biology, UC San Diego

  • Jeff Lievense, Ph.D., senior engineering fellow, Genomatica

  • Michael Japs, MBS, director of commercial technology development, Genomatica

  • Jon Hansen, Ph.D., vice president, science and technology, Heliae

  • Tim Dodge, M.S., senior staff scientist, Dupont 

  • Steve Kennedy, MBA, senior vice president, technical operations, Histogenics

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