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Engineering News Fall 2017

Genentech’s Generosity Benefits Bioengineering

Thanks to Genentech’s generous donation of an Agilent high performance liquid chromatography system, SCU bioengineering students will work on the same equipment used in the field by a world leader in pharmaceutical discovery and biotechnology innovation.

The Department of Bioengineering recently received an Agilent high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) system, complete with advanced molecular separation and detection modules and top-of-the-line microbalance for departmental teaching and research from Genentech, a world leader in pharmaceutical discovery and development for the treatment of serious or life-threatening medical conditions.

“In SCU’s bioengineering program, the theme is ‘engineering toward therapy,’” bioengineering Associate Professor Jonathan Zhang said. “Students in our program learn about and research protein engineering and protein drug discovery. Not only will this new equipment help us teach more efficiently, it will also give our students experience working on the same equipment Genentech is using now. Students appreciate the curriculum more when they can see a direct tie to their career aspirations. Having the same hands-on experience with high-end, sophisticated equipment being used by a Silicon Valley biotech icon for biomolecular analysis makes it very clear what they are working toward,” he added. The equipment has a replacement value in the neighborhood of $180,000.

Moving to the next stage of collaboration, talks are underway to form a strategic partnership between Genentech and the Department of Bioengineering to include research and internship opportunities. “Taking advantage of the strategic location of SCU at the center of Silicon Valley,” said Zhang, “we are also in talks with other bio- and medical high tech neighbors such as Agilent, a leading biodevice company located right in our neighborhood. Even though our bioengineering department is relatively new, it is one of the strongest in the Bay Area and we are gaining in reputation locally and internationally,” Zhang said. “It is exciting to see doors opening for us with these industry leaders.”

One example of strong industry partnerships: Complex new tools for high-level bio-tech research give Associate Professor Jonathan Zhang's students real-world experience.  Photo: Heidi Williams