Prof. Charles L Cooney

Professor of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering, Emeritus

Primary DLC

Department of Chemical Engineering

MIT Room: 56-469B


Hannah Cross

Areas of Interest and Expertise

Biochemical Engineering
Biomedical Engineering
Colloid Science and Separations
Mass Transfer
Bioprocess and Chemical Reaction Engineering
Pharmaceutical Manufacturing
Enzyme Processes
Therapeutic Protein Biotechnology
Synthesis of Products, Especially Recombinant Proteins but also Small Molecules, by Fermentation
Product Purification by Novel Adsorptive and Filtration Technologies

Research Summary

Biochemical engineering as the integration of biological science with engineering principles is a theme which cuts through current research activities. An area of long-term interest is biochemical process control with recent emphasis on the application of expert systems, artificial neural networks and data reconciliation to fermentation and cell culture. A large database of laboratory and industrial fermentations has been accumulated and allows us to evaluate and compare control strategies. Expert systems and neural network approaches are being investigated for fault diagnostics, patterns and trends and data consistency. A well-equipped fermentation process control laboratory provides opportunities to develop and test algorithms and strategies on fermentations.

A second focus is biochemical product recovery. Once synthesized in complex and often dilute solution, biochemical products need to be separated and purified. Current work in downstream processing focuses on filtration and adsorption techniques. Realizing that membrane filtration processes are constrained by concentration polarization, techniques such as vortex flow filtration are used to minimize membrane fouling and polarization. Applications of vortex flow filtration are examined in areas ranging from protein purification to waste treatment processes. We use vortex flow contactors as reactors with immobilized enzyme catalysts, and as continuous systems for protein adsorption by ion exchange.

Through a multidisciplinary and multidepartmental research collaboration we are investigating the production and application of polysaccharide lyases. These enzymes degrade complex polysaccharides such as heparin, and are of both diagnostic and therapeutic importance. Research focuses on the role of enzyme binding and its effect on catalytic degradation of complex polysaccharides.

As co-director of the Program on the Pharmaceutical Industry, a collaborative program with the Sloan School of Management, research on issues of competitiveness and productivity of the pharmaceutical industry are underway. There is a particular interest in research that addresses manufacturing, management of technology and industry structure. The goal is to develop an understanding of the factors which drive and constrain the implementation of new manufacturing technology in the pharmaceutical industry.

Research in Computational and Systems Biology -- The Cooney lab is interested in the processes used to manufacture products in biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries. We use various analytical techniques to measure properties of molecules and biological systems used in these industries and apply computational techniques to predict the behavior of the system on a molecular and system-wide scale.

Recent Work