Modeling and Miniaturization of a Centrifugal Bioreactor with Applications in Cancer Immunotherapy and Chemical Engineering Education

Primary author: Kitana Kaiphanliam
Co-author(s): Brenden Fraser-Hevlin, Bernard Van Wie
Faculty sponsor: Bernard J. Van Wie

Primary college/unit: Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture
Campus: Pullman


A centrifugal bioreactor (CBR) system has been designed and studied in Professor Bernard Van Wie’s laboratory with applications ranging from tissue engineering for arthritis to T cell biomanufacturing for cancer therapies. A major issue in using the CBR for T cell expansion is the numerous sources for potential contamination, as half of the system is exposed outside of a biosafety cabinet. If the current system were implemented in hospitals, it would require a cleanroom costing up to $3 million; however, if the CBR was downsized to fit in a biosafety cabinet, containment costs would be reduced to $15,000, at most. By reducing the size of the CBR to fit in a biosafety cabinet and assuming proper aseptic technique is followed, we will nearly eliminate contamination sources, making the system more affordable and accessible for cancer immunotherapy applications. Current efforts in the downsizing process include drafting and modeling of a prototype scalable to that of a compact disc (CD). Additionally, the CBR can be further miniaturized as a hands-on learning module for classroom use. The physics principles that define the CBR can be used to introduce separations to chemical engineering undergraduate students, as well as expose them to applications in the biomedical field. We hypothesize that these CBR-like fidget spinner modules will increase motivation and retention amongst female students in a freshman-level chemical engineering course. Prototypes for the hands-on learning modules have been manufactured, and we will be implementing them along with motivational assessments in the spring CHE 110 class.