June 10, 2022

Gift to Purdue University establishes Institute for Advanced Manufacturing of Pharmaceuticals

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — A generous donation from a pioneer in pharmaceutical and biotechnology manufacturing will establish the William D. Young Institute for Advanced Manufacturing of Pharmaceuticals at Purdue University. The university institute, approved by the Purdue University Board of Trustees on Friday (June 10) and launched with a gift from William D. Young, will unite faculty in overhauling pharmaceutical manufacturing with a goal of reducing costs and expanding access to innovative drugs emerging from biotechnology research.

“We’re honored to receive this gift from a man with a global reputation as a talented chemical engineer who built an outstanding technical and management record in pharmaceutical and biotech manufacturing,” Purdue President Mitch Daniels said. “Everyone in pharma knows that having Bill Young’s name on the sign means we will be working to the highest standards and producing revolutionary results.”

The institute is the latest fruit from a $250 million investment in life sciences as part of the Purdue Moves strategic plan, which included investments in research that improves lives and supports Indiana’s critical life sciences business sector.

The effort grows from a recognition that pharmaceutical companies have not invested as heavily in economical methods of manufacturing drugs as they have in drug discovery, combined with the unique position of the state of Indiana and Purdue to strengthen pharmaceutical manufacturing in the Midwest.

Total funding dedicated to pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical research at Purdue is estimated at over $19 million in 2021. More than 4,000 undergraduate degrees are awarded annually, and more than 2,000 doctoral students are enrolled in disciplines related to pharmaceuticals and biotechnology.

Purdue is among the top 10 organizations when ranked by publications and patents on pharmaceutical manufacturing, according to the 2021 U.S. Industry & Market report (NAICS 324512), published by Barnes Report. Indiana is among the top 10 states in the U.S. for pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing output, according to the 2018 and 2019 Census Bureau’s Annual Survey of Manufacturers, and was ranked second in the nation for worldwide life sciences exports, totaling over $11 billion annually in 2020.

“Pharmaceutical and biotechnology innovation is impeded by manufacturing practices that have not kept up with the corresponding pace of innovation in science. As a result, the most advanced drugs are too costly to help as many people as they could,” said Young, a successful chemical engineer, pharmaceutical industry executive, venture capitalist and Purdue alumnus. “In emerging fields such as gene and cell therapy, better manufacturing technology is essential for enabling these life-saving treatments. I know firsthand that Purdue is primed with the skills and expertise needed to be a major catalyst in changing that paradigm. It is my privilege to support such an endeavor.”

The gift will fund an initial investment in a 9,600-square-foot leased facility in the Indiana Manufacturing Institute in the Purdue Research Park, to be followed by construction of an approximately 40,000-square-foot building in the Discovery Park District at Purdue. The gift is further intended to support the institute into the foreseeable future.

Although the institute is established with the aid of the gift, co-directors Alina Alexeenko, Eric Munson and Garth Simpson said it began with a grassroots effort among a consortium of interested faculty members working toward a common goal in pharmaceutical manufacturing. The three co-directors represent 30 founding faculty members from the colleges of Engineering, Pharmacy and Science.

Among the areas of expertise represented by founding faculty members are continuous manufacturing for synthesis of active pharmaceutical ingredient as well as drug product, 3D printing of pharmaceuticals, lyophilization, machine learning to aid in optimization and an analytical chemistry program that is ranked first in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.

“When we combine these different levels of expertise, we’re the equivalent of a one-stop shop,” said Munson, head of the Department of Industrial and Physical Pharmacy in the College of Pharmacy. “When a pharmaceutical company needs help with large-scale problems that encompass formulation, manufacturing and analysis, we will have the capability to address it.”

Alexeenko, professor of aeronautics and astronautics and chemical engineering and associate dean for undergraduate education within the College of Engineering, said the institute will enable the university to conduct research at a manufacturing scale, accelerating the transition from lab to market by providing an environment that simulates a Good Manufacturing Practice environment, and offers access to modular and automated facilities for research, development and training.

“Some of the physics and chemistry that happen at a manufacturing setting are very difficult to mimic at a lab scale, so it’s very important to reproduce the manufacturing environment as part of the research process,” Alexeenko said. “With the new institute, we will incorporate manufacturing approaches such as ubiquitous sensors, ubiquitous simulation and real-time process controls in this highly automated environment that improves product quality and process performance.”

The institute also offers opportunities for workforce development, with the potential to train future Indiana workers in the basics of the pharmaceutical industry, and serves as a workforce training resource for Midwestern pharmaceutical companies. With the rapid changes in advanced manufacturing, the facility can serve as a test bed for optimizing production lines before companies invest in retooling. Overall, the co-directors hope the institute will serve as the hub for a holistic ecosystem that integrates scientific endeavors with the private sector and government engagement, said Simpson, a professor of analytical chemistry in the College of Science.

“Globalization and networking have created a lot of pressure to outsource, and we’ve seen the challenges that have been produced in the supply chains,” Simpson said. “If we can leverage the historic strength that the Midwest in general, and Indiana in particular, has in pharmaceutical manufacturing, we can rebuild that infrastructure around advances that are coming straight out of the research pipelines in engineering, pharmacy and science.”

About Purdue University

Purdue University is a top public research institution developing practical solutions to today’s toughest challenges. Ranked in each of the last four years as one of the 10 Most Innovative universities in the United States by U.S. News & World Report, Purdue delivers world-changing research and out-of-this-world discovery. Committed to hands-on and online, real-world learning, Purdue offers a transformative education to all. Committed to affordability and accessibility, Purdue has frozen tuition and most fees at 2012-13 levels, enabling more students than ever to graduate debt-free. See how Purdue never stops in the persistent pursuit of the next giant leap at https://stories.purdue.edu.

Writer: Mary Martialay, mmartial@purdue.edu

Sources: Mitch Daniels

William D. Young

Alina Alexeenko

Eric Munson

Garth Simpson

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