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Rensselaer Professor Steven Cramer Elected Fellow of American Chemical Society

(Original article here)

Bioseparations and Bioprocessing Expert Honored for Leadership in Research and Education

Bioseparations and bioprocessing expert Steven Cramer, the William Weightman Walker Professor of Polymer Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, this week was elected a fellow of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

The ACS recognized Cramer for excellence in leadership, volunteer service, and for "outstanding achievements in and contributions to science, the profession, and the society."

"The entire School of Engineering joins me today in congratulating Professor Cramer on his election as a fellow of the American Chemical Society," saidDavid Rosowsky, dean of the School of Engineering at Rensselaer. "This is a fitting recognition for Steve's many important contributions in research, teaching, and professional service. We celebrate Dr. Cramer's elevation to fellow status in the ACS and are enormously proud to count him among the ranks of our distinguished engineering faculty at Rensselaer."

The ACS-the world's largest scientific society-will honor Cramer on August 20 at a special ceremony during the ACS National Meeting in Philadelphia.

A faculty member in the Rensselaer Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering and the Department of Biomedical Engineering, Cramer is a recognized global leader in chromatographic bioprocessing. His research focuses on developing new methods and technologies to separate and purify biological compounds, both of which are major challenges facing drug discovery. This is particularly true of drugs that include proteins, which are notoriously difficult to separate from potentially harmful variants and impurities.

Recently, Cramer has been investigating different areas related to protein-surface interactions. This includes research into multiscale modeling of complex chromatographic behavior, fundamental studies of selectivity and affinity in multimodal chromatographic systems, chromatography on a chip, smart biopolymer affinity separation systems, and other endeavors. Cramer's research is closely connected to several of the core facilities at the Institute, such as the nuclear magnetic resonance facility in the Rensselaer Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies.

A prolific researcher, Cramer holds nine patents and has published more than 150 papers in peer-reviewed journals. He is editor-in-chief of the international journal Separations, Science and Technology. Additionally, he has chaired several high-profile professional meetings, including the international HIC/RPC Bioseparations Conference, the American Chemical Society (ACS) Recovery of Biological Products Meeting, and the Gordon Research Conference on Reactive Polymers.

Cramer's peers have honored him with many awards and recognitions for his contributions. He received the Alan S. Michaels Award for the Recovery of Biological Products from the ACS Division of Biochemical Technology, and he is a fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. At Rensselaer, he received the School of Engineering Excellence in Research Award, the Rensselaer Early Career Award, as well as several teaching awards. Additionally, he received a Presidential Young Investigator Award from the National Science Foundation.

Cramer joined the Rensselaer faculty as an assistant professor in 1986 and in 1990 was named the Isermann Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering. He became a full professor in 1995, and in 2007 was named the William Weightman Walker Professor of Polymer Engineering. In his time at Rensselaer, he has advised 35 doctoral students who have gone on to leadership positions in academic and the biotechnology industry.

He earned his bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from Brown University, and completed his master's and doctoral degrees in chemical engineering from Yale University.

Faculty Home Page
http://www.rpi.edu/~crames

Steven Cramer Named Fellow of AIChE
http://news.rpi.edu/update.do?artcenterkey=2926

Purifying Proteins: Rensselaer Researchers Use NMR To Improve Drug Development
http://news.rpi.edu/update.do?artcenterkey=2772

Fourth W.H. Peterson Award for Rensselaer
http://www.rpi.edu/about/inside/issue/v4n4/peterson.html

Separations Expert Named William Weightman Walker Professor at Rensselaer
http://news.rpi.edu/update.do?artcenterkey=2345

Published July 26, 2012Contact: Michael Mullaney
Phone: (518) 276-6161
E-mail: mullam@rpi.edu

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Rensselaer Professor Steven Cramer Named Fellow of AIChE

(Original article here)

Chemical Engineer Honored for Work in Bioseparations and Bioprocessing

Bioseparations and bioprocessing expert Steven Cramer, the William Weightman Walker Professor of Polymer Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, was recently elected a fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE).

The AIChE commended Cramer for his wide-reaching research successes, and for demonstrating "significant accomplishments in, and contributions to, the profession" of chemical engineering.

"Professor Cramer is a gifted educator and nationally recognized scholar. We congratulate him for being named a fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers," said David Rosowsky, dean of the School of Engineering at Rensselaer. "Steve joins a growing number of society fellows in the School of Engineering and across the Institute. We are very proud of his scholarly achievements and this important recognition by his peers, and we are proud to count him among our distinguished engineering faculty at Rensselaer."

A faculty member in the Rensselaer Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering and the Department of Biomedical Engineering, Cramer is a recognized global leader in chromatographic bioprocessing. His research focuses on developing new methods and technologies to separate and purify biological compounds, both of which are major challenges facing drug discovery. This is particularly true of drugs that include proteins, which are notoriously difficult to separate from potentially harmful variants and impurities.

Recently, Cramer has been investigating different areas related to protein-surface interactions. This includes research into multiscale modeling of complex chromatographic behavior, fundamental studies of selectivity and affinity in multimodal chromatographic systems, chromatography on a chip, smart biopolymer affinity separation systems, and other endeavors. Cramer's research is closely connected to several of the core facilities at the Institute, such as the nuclear magnetic resonance facility in the Rensselaer Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies.

A prolific researcher, Cramer holds nine patents and has published more than 150 papers in peer-reviewed journals. He is editor-in-chief of the international journal Separations, Science and Technology. Additionally, he has chaired several high-profile professional meetings, including the international HIC/RPC Bioseparations Conference, the American Chemical Society (ACS) Recovery of Biological Products Meeting, and the Gordon Research Conference on Reactive Polymers.

Cramer's peers have honored him with many awards and recognitions for his contributions. He received the Alan S. Michaels Award for the Recovery of Biological Products from the ACS Division of Biochemical Technology, and was elected a fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering. At Rensselaer, he received the School of Engineering Excellence in Research Award, the Rensselaer Early Career Award, as well as several teaching awards. Additionally, he received a Presidential Young Investigator Award from the National Science Foundation.

Cramer joined the Rensselaer faculty as an assistant professor in 1986 and in 1990 was named the Isermann Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering. He became a full professor in 1995, and in 2007 was named the William Weightman Walker Professor of Polymer Engineering. In his time at Rensselaer, he has advised 35 doctoral students who have gone on to leadership positions in academic and the biotechnology industry.

He earned his bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from Brown University, and completed his master's and doctoral degrees in chemical engineering from Yale University.

For more information on the Cramer's research at Rensselaer, visit:

Faculty Home Page
http://www.rpi.edu/~crames

Purifying Proteins: Rensselaer Researchers Use NMR To Improve Drug Development
http://news.rpi.edu/update.do?artcenterkey=2772

Fourth W.H. Peterson Award for Rensselaer
http://www.rpi.edu/about/inside/issue/v4n4/peterson.html

Separations Expert Named William Weightman Walker Professor at Rensselaer
http://news.rpi.edu/update.do?artcenterkey=2345

 

Contact: Michael Mullaney
Phone: (518) 276-6161
E-mail: mullam@rpi.edu

 

Purifying proteins: Rensselaer researchers use NMR to improve drug development

(Original article here)

Troy, N.Y. - The purification of drug components is a large hurdle facing modern drug development. This is particularly true of drugs that utilize proteins, which are notoriously difficult to separate from other potentially deadly impurities. Scientists within the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies (CBIS) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute are using nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) to understand and improve an important protein purification process.

"We hope to use our insights to help those in the industry develop improved processes to provide much less expensive drugs and dramatically reduce healthcare costs," said paper author and William Weightman Walker Professor of Polymer Engineering Steven Cramer of Rensselaer.

His team's findings are published in the Sept. 2 online early edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS ) in a paper titled "Evaluation of protein absorption and preferred binding regions in multimodal chromatography using NMR." The research was funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The process of multimodal chromatography has recently generated significant interest in the pharmaceutical industry. At its most basic, this process separates proteins from their surrounding materials, such as DNA and other proteins. The process works by encouraging the desired protein to stick to a material that contains a ligand, a type of molecular glue. Each ligand is only attracted to certain parts of certain proteins. Having been separated from the mixture, the specific protein can now be obtained in purer form, facilitating its eventual use as a biotherapeutic.

The more selective the ligand is at binding to a specific protein, the more efficient the process is, and the less additional steps are required to produce the final drug. This results in reduced costs for the production of the drug. But despite its widespread use and benefits, there is very little understood about how the process actually works or how the ligands can be improved.

"We are trying to understand what exactly is making these materials so useful for separating proteins," Cramer said. "And what we are looking to uncover are the fundamental interactions within the chromatographic process that make the separations possible and efficient."

For this study, the researchers used several of the advanced research facilities within CBIS. Using the Microbiology and Fermentation Core, Cramer and his colleagues grew several mutants of a protein called ubiquitin. This group of modified proteins is referred to as a protein library.

To compare the difference between multimodal systems and more traditional chromatography, the team ran the library through a less sophisticated chromatography system called ion exchange chromatography, as well as the multimodal system. They found that there was very little to no difference in the binding of proteins to ligands in the traditional ion exchange system. In contrast, there were huge fluctuations in the binding of some of the different mutants within the multimodal system.

To delve further into why this happened, they input ubiquitin and the multimodal ligands into the massive 800 megahertz NMR at Rensselaer's CBIS. The NMR uses magnetic properties within organic materials to provide information on the minute molecular chemical properties of the material. From the NMR data, they were able to determine what part and type of the protein the ligands were binding to and how strongly they would bind. Their results validated the previous multimodal chromatography comparison experiments, showing that each of the protein mutants that strongly fluctuated in their binding strength in the multimodal chromatographic system were also the same ones identified with the NMR.

"This research is helping us develop a fundamental understanding of selectivity," Cramer said. Working with his team, Cramer will work to design improved ligands and improved processes for their purification.

Cramer was joined in his research by Rensselaer NMR Core Director and Research Assistant Professor Scott McCallum, and graduate students Wai Keen Chung, Alexander Freed, and Melissa Holstein. Holstein was also the recipient of the 2009 W.H. Peterson Poster Award in the American Chemical Society's (ACS) biochemical technology division for this research (only one award is given each year). She is the fourth student in the Cramer lab to earn this prestigious award in the past eight years.

Contact: Gabrielle DeMarco
demarg@rpi.edu
518-276-6542
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

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Separations Expert Named William Weightman Walker Professor of Polymer Engineering

(Original article here

Steven M. Cramer came to Rensselaer in 1986, excited at the prospect of working with Professor Georges Belfort, one of the major pioneers in the field of bioseparations. Today, Cramer is widely regarded as a pioneer in his own right: a worldwide leader in chromatographic bioprocessing and an expert in separations in general.

His accomplishments have earned him a number of prestigious awards, including his recent appointment as the Institute's William Weightman Walker Professor of Polymer Engineering. As an endowed professorship, it is the highest honor bestowed upon a faculty member. It also is one of the two oldest named professorships at Rensselaer.

Cramer is the inaugural recipient of the Alan S. Michaels Award for the Recovery of Biological Products, the editor of the journal Separation Science and Technology, and a fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering. He also has been honored by the National Science Foundation and with several teaching awards.

“The most rewarding thing about teaching is 
its potential to transform,” Cramer says.

Yet he points to his doctoral graduates as his most significant accomplishment.

"My former students are major players in the bioprocessing industry in this country," Cramer says. "They are doing great work, enabling companies to come up with more efficient processes and helping to advance the entire industry. That is what I'm most proud of."

His research focuses on using chromatography and developing new technology to separate and purify biological compounds. The resulting discoveries have led not only to a deeper understanding of chromatography but also to the development of tools that improve the separation process and, ultimately, may make new medications possible by finding ways to separate substances that previously could not be isolated.

Before a drug can be injected into the body, it must be extremely pure - a process that typically requires many separations, each of which is expensive. 

"If we can make the process more efficient and more economical, we can make drugs more affordable," Cramer explains.

He and his collaborators are responsible for a major shift in the field of displacement chromatography and the way that proteins are purified. Their work has resulted in at least four patents that have been commercialized and are now being used in the biotech industry.

Personal Inspiration

Cramer traces his interest in biotechnology and separations to his father's multiple sclerosis. Watching his father suffer, Cramer says, "I knew I wanted to work in medical-related research."

He began as an undergraduate at Brown University, where he majored in biomedical engineering before pursing his master's and doctorate in chemical engineering at Yale University. It was the early 1980s, the biotech industry was just emerging, and Cramer was quick to recognize its potential. "I saw that there would be a tremendous need for people trained in bioseparations, so I chose that as the topic for my thesis," he says.

Since coming to Rensselaer as an assistant professor, Cramer has rapidly advanced through the ranks of the faculty. In 1990 he was named the Isermann Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering after only three years; five years later he became a full professor and, for a time, served as acting department head of Chemical and Biological Engineering.

Currently, in addition to serving as the William Weightman Walker Professor of Polymer Engineering in the Isermann Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Cramer is a member of the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies (CBIS), which "provides a tremendous environment for multidisciplinary research. Here, I'm just one professor in a long line of productive people, and that's very exciting," Cramer says. "My approach to research is to try to be as creative as possible," he adds. "The way to do that is to collaborate with others at the intersection of different fields. The CBIS provides my research group with an unparalleled opportunity for carry out cutting-edge multidisciplinary biotechnology-related research."

Cramer teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in separations and bioseparations engineering. His focus is on engaging students in problem solving and the give-and-take of learning. Whenever possible, he incorporates the latest developments in the field into the curriculum.

As a teacher, he takes great satisfaction in the growth of his students. "The most rewarding thing about teaching is its potential to transform," Cramer says.

He cites examples of undergraduates who begin with little or no knowledge of separations engineering and end the semester proficient in what Cramer has taught. Even more rewarding "is to watch as a graduate student is transformed from someone who does not have a great deal of knowledge or experience in the field into a world-class bioseparations engineer."


To read more about Steven Cramer, go to www.rpi.edu/dept/chem-eng/WWW/faculty/cramer/.

 

 

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