Bioengineering Research Group (BERG)


Established in 1991, the Bioengineering Research Group (BERG) fosters the advancement of Biochemical Engineering to transcend barriers, overcome challenges, and create opportunities to improve life, advance health and promote environmental sustainability in the XXIst century. By harnessing biomolecular and cellular processes, and mastering key enabling technologies, researchers are focused on developing innovative products, designing more efficient and sustainable processes and providing useful services to society. These efforts aim to contribute to: i) foster the use of gene/cell-based therapies and regenerative medicine to address unmet clinical needs, ii) lead to more efficient and cleaner industrial manufacturing processes, iii) increase sustainability by saving energy, iv) improve availability of safe food and v) reduce environmental footprints.


BERG team includes 14 Principal Investigators and 11 post-doctoral researchers with multidisciplinary expertise that enables the group to address several bioengineering challenges. The organizational structure of BERG relies on four Research Programs:


A) Bioprocess and Biosystems Engineering is focused on the production of added-value compounds by using biocatalysts at micro- to pilot-scales and on the development of biosensors, microfluidic-based devices and analytical tools to monitor/control bioprocesses in the fields of environment, food and healthcare. Systems engineering approaches and PAT are used or developed anew to link process and product throughout design, development and manufacturing. Bioprocesses have been also developed to treat effluent streams and to provide bioremediation services under extreme conditions of xenobiotic concentrations.


B) Bioseparation Engineering is focused on the design of purification processes to intensify and optimize the DSP of biopharmaceuticals (mAbs and pDNA) with emphasis on ATPE, nanomagnetic separations and membrane/monolithic chromatography. Multimodal ligands and tailor-made synthetic ligands have been used to improve biomolecule purification, stability and function. ATPE microfluidic integrated devices have been also developed as an automated high-throughput platform for purification and analysis of biomolecules.


C) Molecular Bioengineering is focused on the development/engineering of: i) pDNA biopharmaceuticals (vectors, delivery, monitoring); ii) molecular constructs to anchor biomolecule to surfaces, structured bio-mimetic surfaces, adsorption materials for biomolecule purification and platforms for the manipulation/detection of DNA, proteins and cells at the micro-scale; and iii) microbial cells to improve the production of specific biomolecules.


D) Stem Cell Bioengineering and Regenerative Medicine is focused on stem cell bioprocessing and manufacturing. The success of stem cell manufacturing relies on safe, robust and reproducible culture conditions and cost-effective processes, including bioreactor design, bioseparation, microscale technology and process control, combined with systems biology. The following specific aims are pursued: i) Evaluation of microcarrier-based, encapsulated and 3-D aggregated stem cell cultures towards an Improved Cellular Product; ii) Optimization of stem cell bioreactor operation under xeno-free culture conditions for scalable cell production; iii) Establishment of new processes to isolate/purify specific populations of stem cells from complex mixtures and its integration in scalable ex-vivo expansion systems as well as for quality control of cellular products; and iv) Development of high-throughput microscale platforms and systems biology approaches to study stem cell fate, cell processing optimization and screening assays in drug discovery and toxicity testing.


The BERG programs are performed in its research facilities located in the 7th and 8th floors of Torre Sul in the Alameda Campus, with 400 m2 of laboratories equipped with bioreactors, separation/purification and analytical units for biocatalysis, fermentation and bioseparations. The Stem Cell Bioengineering program is developed in the Taguspark Campus, with 300 m2 of research laboratories, including 2 cell culture laboratories equipped with CO2 incubators, laminar flow hoods and cell culture systems and a GMP clean room.




Research Units