The transformation of biology in the 1960’s and 70’s from a descriptive science to a molecular science and our current, unprecedented ability to manipulate biological cells at the genetic level have revolutionized the interaction between chemical engineering and biology and life sciences. The research and educational programmes in the Department in Biomolecular and Biomedical Sciences recognize that biology at the molecular level is a chemical science and that biological cells are cellular factories. The Department has a long-standing record of research and education in areas that cut across disciplinary boundaries in biological and life sciences and has played a major role in shaping the direction of research in the nation. An example is A*STAR’s Bioprocessing Technology Institute, which evolved out of the Bioprocessing Technology Centre within the Department, and the Joint BTI-ChBE Research and Educational Laboratory.

Current research activities in biomolecular and biomedical engineering in the Department include, but are not limited to,

Biocatalysis and Bioseparation

Our Biocatalysis program focuses on the discovery and development of novel enzymes for regio- and stereo-selective transformations, development of efficient biocatalytic methods for enantioselective syntheses, and the development of practical bioprocesses for the production of enantiopure compunds such as pharmaceutical intermediates. Our effort in bioseparation is directed towards the development of a scalable process, based on affinity chromatography, for purifying IgM. Using the human secretory component as template, we seek to develop low-cost biomimetic ligands with high selectivity, binding capacity and enhanced stability to in-situ sterilization.

Biopolymers for Bio-applications and Chemotherapeutic Engineering

Our interest in biopolymers are for their applications in any biological field, from bioseparations, cell culture and expansion to tissue engineering and drug delivery to bioprocessing and pharmaceutics and even environmental engineering. Projects in this area aim to integrate our knowledge of polymer science and engineering to multi-disciplinary fields, so that we can develop our strengths in all areas. Research is also conducted to develop novel biodegradable and biocompatible polymers as thermoplastic or smart materials for biomedical application. In the area of chemotherapeutic engineering, we are developing multi-functional nanoparticles of biodegradable polymers for targeting, diagnosing, curing and reporting of cancer and other fatal diseases.

Nano-bioanalytic Devices and Methods

An emerging dimension in nanotechnology is the production of various nanostructured materials guided by a nanoscale protein scaffold, or through the grafting of proteins onto polymeric surfaces. Our research activities in this arena are focused on elucidating new techniques for nano-biomolecular assembly, development of nanoscale biosensors, the application of micro-encapsulated substances, and the fabrication of micro- and nano- particles for pharmaceutical applications.

Conjugated polymers (CPs) are ideally suited for sensing of biological entities due to their build in transduction mechanism afforded by the conjugated backbone. Out nano-biosensor research is directed at harnessing the unique properties of conjugated organic polymers (molecular wires effects), where CPs could serve as amplifiers (for signal amplification) or as reporters (for signal report) in homogenous bioassays.

Mono-dispersed fine particles have great technological and economical advantages over poly-dispersed ones. To produce mono-disperse droplets, we explore the use of Electrohydrodynamic Atomization (EHDA) and Supercritical Antisolvent Method (SAS). These methods allow precise control of the droplets sizes directly from the source of production, thus eliminating the need for extensive down-stream classification.

Faculty Members working in this Research Area