"People with know-how must bear responsibility," said the microbiologist Dr. Kilian Hennes, who lectures bioprocess engineering at Constance University of Applied Sciences (HTWG). Teaching is one of the major challenges for the experienced scientist and practitioner, in particular because his discipline is seen as somewhat exotic by future process engineers and requires a different way of looking at things. But this is what makes his job truly interesting for him.
In order to develop processes and construct machines that meet specific hygienic and process-kinetic requirements, students have to understand bacterial growth in detail as well as how and where contaminations can occur. For example, obtaining purity and effectiveness of biotechnologically produced drugs is problematic. The cleaning of a facility and necessary validation could become so complex that it might in some cases be wiser to use disposable techniques.
The entire culture reactor is shaken to mix the contents. This requires the application of a completely different technology and hence the designer has to come up with a completely different solution to the problem. Procedural facilities in cleanroom settings are subject to strict requirements. Technical know-how alone is not sufficient; the technician also requires profound microbiological knowledge.
The integration of bioprocess engineering into the process and the bachelor’s course in environmental technology is an important step, said Dr. Kilian Hennes because this strengthens the field of biotechnology at Constance University of Applied Sciences. The engineering and natural sciences are complemented with aspects from the fields of microbiology, genetic engineering, bioprocess kinetics, bioreactors, sterile technology and biochemical sensor technology. This means that seminal process and environmental technology courses are well adapted to the rapid developments in modern biology; and it also means that engineers from the University of Applied Sciences with an understanding of biotechnology are sought-after experts.
Dr. Kilian Hennes has in the meantime sold his analysis laboratory in order to tackle new challenges and new responsibilities. Besides his teaching activities, he has established his “Agency for Industrial Hygiene Management” and audits and advises laboratories and production departments in the pharmaceutical and medical device sector. He also assesses quality management systems as sustainable hygiene policies improve product quality and safety.In addition, the microbiologist has also initiated a ProInno II research project, in which he works with the University of Constance on the development of a cell-based rapid test. “This is based on a very unusual idea and a pragmatic approach,” explains Dr. Kilian Hennes who considers it particularly important to work with Constance University, a mainly basic research-based university, and the University of Applied Sciences, which is an applied research-based university. He sees great potential in cooperative high-level research and development projects. However, the required organisational structures have to be developed first.