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June 21, 2018

How academia and industry team up to improve biopharmaceuticals

By Kajsa Eales Löwenhielm

This corporate lab isn’t too cool for school—academia and industry team up to advance medicine


Fast Trak Turkey lab
Fast Trak Turkey classroom

Looking around a typical university laboratory, many times you’ll find storied equipment; instruments and technologies that have toiled away for years serving the revolving door of incoming and advancing students. Beginners and experts alike have handled this lab equipment over time, understandably fatiguing even the most reliable technologies.

But the new bioprocess training lab at Yeditepe University is not a typical lab. Here, you’ll find outstanding biomanufacturing and drug discovery technologies, thanks to a creative collaboration between the university and GE Healthcare Life Sciences.

With the joint goal of strengthening the biopharmaceutical industry in the region, the two institutions custom-built a life sciences lab on Yeditipe’s campus. The Fast Trak Bioprocessing Technology and Training lab will help spur new innovations, boost bioprocess skills, and provide a venue for exchanging ideas.

The lab is equipped and run by GE as part of their Fast Trak services. As other Fast Trak centers around the world, the facility will provide training to empower biomanufacturers in the region. More importantly, it will give the university’s 500 or so researchers and science students access to the same type of equipment used by the biopharma industry. They also get direct access to industry expertise and training.

“The core of this collaboration is really exchanging knowhow”, says Dogutan Ulgen, Senior Marketing Manager at GE Healthcare Life Sciences. “We learn so much from interacting directly with the people using our products. Teaching them, getting ideas on what to improve, and so on. The expertise we’ve built up over the years will help the students and researchers do better science. This is really a win for the future of the biopharma industry in this region.”, he adds.

It’s no coincidence that the center of this activity sits in Turkey. The government is investing heavily in accelerating biopharma research and development activities, which has been a driving force behind the rapid biopharma growth the country has seen in the last five years. But to continue this progress, Turkey needs to continue supporting professional learning and development as well as building the right technology infrastructure. Together, GE and Yeditepe University teamed up to make that happen.

Fast Trak Turkey

“The Turkish biopharma industry has strong potential for growth, and this academia-industry collaboration is a great way to accelerate research and development in the sector”, says Prof. Canan Aykut Bingöl, Rector, Yeditepe University. She sees great possibilities to advance bioprocessing competence and capabilities, as the university’s researchers get access to high-quality bioprocessing technologies and expertise.

GE’s Fast Trak Operations Leader in the region, Alper Uras, echoes Prof. Aykut Bingöl’s thoughts. “I believe that this collaboration will be a key example of showing how industry and academia could work together to reach Turkey’s 2023 targets in the biopharma field.”, he says.

The Fast Trak lab was previously located at GE’s Innovation Center in Turkey. Since the opening in 2016 the lab has provided training and services for around 450 participants. “Re-locating our Fast Trak center to Yeditepe University is an excellent way to strengthen the relationship with academia.” says Umay Şaplakoğlu, General Manager, Fast Trak, GE Healthcare Life Sciences. “It gives us the opportunity to increase our interaction with current and future talents and that way intensify the biopharma R&D and manufacturing support”, she adds.

Working closely together, sharing thoughts, ideas, and expertise can open new doors for the biopharma community. “We see great potential in this relationship. It might even result in the development of new innovative products and technologies” says Prof. Aykut Bingöl.

About Fast Trak

GE Healthcare has Fast Trak Centers in South Korea, the USA, Sweden, India, and China and satellite Fast Trak Centers in Turkey, Japan and Singapore. The centers are equipped with the latest technologies for bioprocessing in an environment and at a scale that closely replicates the real-life industrial setting. For over 30 years, thousands of customers world-wide have been trained by GE’s experienced Fast Trak leadership teams, giving customers access to industry expertise encompassing process and analytical development, process scale-up, as well as services for manufacture of drug substances for use in toxicology studies or Phase I and II clinical testing.