Professor Hirimburegama, Vice Chancellor of the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka, visited the University on Tuesday 9 December 2008 and as part of this visit she came to the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology to discuss possible links between Colombo and our Department.
On Wednesday 10 December 2008, we were also visited by a delegation from BIOTEC (National Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology), Thailand.
Dr Kanyawin Kirtikara (Executive Director), Dr Lili Eurwilaichitr (Director of Bioresources Technology Unit) and Dr Sittiwat Lertsiri (Associate Professor at Faculty of Science Mahidol University, Biotechnology Department) all visited our site. They were given a tour of the CUBE laboratory by Dr Nicholas Darton who works on developing paramagnetic nanoparticles and magnetic manipulation strategies to target viral gene therapy vectors and therapeutics to sites of disease in the human body. Recently, in collaboration with the Magnetic Resonance Research Centre, experiments have been published in which superparamagnetic nanoparticles were tracked and moved in an NMR sample tube with an MRI machine. It is hoped that in the near future, superparamagnetic nanoparticle-linked drugs will be delivered to internal disease sites in patients using a clinical MRI scanner by the same non-invasive technique.
Post graduate student Ben Taylor (in the white coat) gave the delegation a scientific overview of his engineering work with an algal Oscillatory Flow Bioreactor. The technology, which is currently under development by the Polymer Fluid Group, is part of a scientific study on algal cell growth for biodiesel feedstock. Ben demonstrated oscillatory flow mixing for the visitors and explained how he envisions its application in commercial-scale biodiesel production could provide significant processing advantages. He then gave them a first-hand look at the department's biodiesel pilot plant as an example of scale-up potential.