Vikramaditya G. Yadav
Department of Chemical & Biological Engineering
My merry band of tinkerers at UBC is solving an eclectic assortment of problems in diverse domains such as carbon capture, pharmaceutical manufacturing, medicine and environmental remediation. The essence of our approach remains the same – learning from the master engineer, Nature, and applying these learnings towards building better products and manufacturing processes. For instance, in the realm of carbon capture, we are genetically engineering microorganisms to directly fix carbon dioxide emissions from the petrochemical industry into new biopolymers that can be used as materials of construction. Our approach hits two birds with one stone – not only do we capture carbon dioxide emissions that are otherwise detrimental to our environment, but we store the captured carbon in an unobtrusive manner. We also extend these principles to the design and development of unique bioremediation strategies to rehabilitate the water quality in and around industrial zones. On the other hand, our work in the realm of medical biotechnology focusses on two critical stages in the drug discovery life cycle – (1) building tools for discovering new drugs, and (2) identifying more efficient and environmentally friendly ways to manufacture promising new drugs. For instance, we are building three-dimensional, structured brain organoids from stem cells for use in identifying cures for Alzheimer’s disease. We are also collaborating with local companies to develop novel medical products against neuropathic pain. Through these experiences, we have swiftly realized the transformative power of multidisciplinary partnerships between different research groups as well as universities and industries, and our work is now typified by collaboration and translation.
Prior to UBC:
I received my BASc in Chemical Engineering from the University of Waterloo. During my undergraduate years, I was employed as a research associate by Therapure BioPharma (formerly Hemosol, Inc.) and then as a bioprocess technologist by Sanofi Pasteur. At Therapure BioPharma, I worked extensively on bioprocess development for manufacture of the company’s flagship product in receptor-mediated drug delivery. At Sanofi Pasteur, I was involved with the development of an early concept of a modular and disposable vaccine production platform for decentralized manufacturing. I then went on complete receive a PhD in Chemical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and subsequently conduct post-doctoral research at Harvard University. My doctoral research focussed on the engineering of customized enzymes for pharmaceutical synthesis. Among other innovations, I developed a novel protocol for computationally guided enzyme engineering and also conceived a new framework for the design of semi-synthetic routes for manufacturing natural products. I joined UBC in the summer of 2014. At Harvard, I was investigating the thermodynamics of ligand-enzyme binding as it pertains to drug design.
• The Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Interdisciplinary Studies’ Wall Scholars Award (2015)
• Teaching Excellence Award, Department of Chemical & Biological Engineering, UBC (2015)
• The Medicine Maker’s Top 100 Most Influential People in Drug Development & Manufacturing (2015)
• UBC Green College Leading Edge Scholar (2014)
• ACS Chemical Abstract Service’s SciFinder Future Leaders of Chemistry Award (2012)
• Winner of the Biochemical Society’s International Science Communication Competition (2012)
• American Chemical Society-Kauffman Foundation Entrepreneurship Prize (2012)
• MIT Legatum Fellowship for Entrepreneurship in the Developing World (2011)
• Edward Merrill Prize for Outstanding Instructorship, MIT (2010)
I am a football (soccer) tragic. If my math is accurate, I have spent over half my life watching or playing or analyzing the sport. I am also addicted to Wikipedia. I am a staunch believer of democratizing knowledge and proudly donate to the Wikipedia movement.