Data and DNA
Bioprocessing provides great opportunities for improvement through computation. [National Human Genome Research Institute]

In our big data and high-performance computing world, I always look to see when an industry makes use of computation. In bioprocessing, it’s not so easy to find. A couple months ago, I explored trends in bioprocessing articles that mentioned automation or digital, and both appeared on the rise. I also wrote recently about a software sensor that measures oxygen in bioprocessing. So, I wondered: What is the trend for publishing articles about computation-related bioprocessing?

On PubMed, a search of “computation AND bioprocessing” turned up one article—from 2017. Here, scientists at UK-based Newcastle University wrote about research in synthetic biology, where computation is pretty fundamental. Then, the same search on Scopus turned up the same article, plus just two more: one from 2016 on using computational fluid dynamics to model filtration of biopharmaceuticals and one from 1993. So, searching two big databases only revealed three articles that explored computation in bioprocessing.

I expected more. Sure, a couple of simple searches won’t dig up everything. It missed a recent one, where the authors noted that they “aim to advance the development of a computational framework to accelerate bioprocess scaleup.” Some other articles must have been missed, too. Plus, articles might include different terms, like artificial intelligence (AI) or neural networks or many other computation-related terms or phrases. Despite those caveats, I still expected more.

Lots of computation in bioprocessing might be—surely is—proprietary. So, it becomes a trade secret. But as we watch the unfolding of a pandemic—devastating already in some places and likely to be in others—it’s a good time to think about more sharing of ideas. So, make time to leave a comment to this article and tell readers what you’ve published about using computation to improve bioprocessing—things that my search missed—or give us a hint about the things that you use but haven’t published. It’s an excellent time to share some knowledge about the power of computation, especially when it can contribute to public health.

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