Fermentation Technology

Fermentation Technology is the longest-run course in the MIT Professional Education catalog. It has been offered continuously for more than 50 years. This course emphasizes the application of biological and engineering principles to problems involving microbial, mammalian, and biological/biochemical systems. The aim of the course is to review fundamentals and provide an up-to-date account of current knowledge in biological and biochemical technology. The lectures will emphasize and place perspectives on biological systems with industrial practices.

This course has made some major additions, modifications, and revisions in the course topics and course contents over the past few years. In recognition of the increasing number of attendees from non-pharmaceutical industries, the instructors are balancing the course to provide equal emphasis on mammalian and microbial technologies. More than half of the lecturers are currently working in industry or have industrial experience.

Lead Instructor(s): 

Kristala L. J. Prather


Jul 27, 2020 - Jul 31, 2020

Course Length: 

5 Days

Course Fee: 





  • Open

It is highly recommended that you apply for a course at least 6-8 weeks before the start date to guarantee there will be space available. After that date you may be placed on a waitlist. Courses with low enrollment may be cancelled up to 4 weeks before start date if sufficient enrollments are not met. If you are able to access the online application form, then registration for that particular course is still open.

Register and use the code EARLY by December 1 for a $500 discount

Participant Takeaways: 

  • Examine the application of biological and engineering principles to problems involving microbial, mammalian, and biological/biochemical systems.
  • Recognize the fundamentals of fermentation technology.
  • Describe current knowledge in biological and biochemical technology, with a focus on industrial practices.
  • Comprehend growth and metabolism, genetics and metabolic engineering in the age of genomics, the biological basis for monitoring bioprocesses including process analytical technology, and applications of the modern biological concepts in bioprocess developments.
  • Examine eukaryotic and prokaryotic protein expression relevant to industrial practice, including post-translational modifications (esp. protein glycosylation).
  • Assess power requirements in bioreactors, modeling of bioprocesses, traditional and new concepts in bioprocess monitoring, and the biological basis for industrial fermentations and cell cultures.
  • Distinguish bioreactor operations in bacteria and mammalian cell systems, oxygen transfer and shear in bioreactors, process improvement through metabolic manipulations, and scale-up of bioreactors such as bacterial, yeast, and mammalian cells.
  • Analyze the bioprocess paradigm: Scale-down, bioprocess simulation and economics, sterilization, and bioburden in biological manufacturing.
  • Examine considerations in bioprocess simulation and economics, sterilization in biological manufacturing, and clinical implications of bioprocesses.

Who Should Attend: 

The course is intended for engineers, biologists, chemists, microbiologists, and biochemists who are interested in the areas of biological systems in prokaryotic and eukaryotic hosts. It is desirable that individuals enrolled be familiar with some of the general aspects of modern biology, genetics, biochemical engineering, and biochemistry. Some general knowledge of mathematics is also desirable for dealing with the engineering aspects of the course.

Program Outline: 

Lectures will cover the following topics:

  • Growth and metabolism
  • Molecular biology in bioprocess developments
  • Bioprocess concepts in mammalian cell culture technology
  • Protein expression in bacterial and mammalian cells: basic concepts and methods for improvements
  • Post translational modifications: protein glycosylation
  • Biological basis for industrial fermentations and cell cultures
  • Power requirements in bioreactors
  • Oxygen transfer and shear in bioreactors
  • Bioreactor operations in bacterial and mammalian cell systems
  • Modeling and traditional bioprocess monitoring
  • Scale-up of bioreactors: bacteria, yeast, and mammalian cells
  • Media and air sterilization
  • Process analytical technology
  • Clinical implications of bioprocesses
  • Bioprocess simulation and economics

Course materials will be issued on the first day of class – no advanced preparation is necessary. Electrical power is available in the lecture hall.

The program is under the direction of Professor Daniel I. C. Wang and Dr. Kristala L. J. Prather. Lectures will be presented by:

Dr. Neal Connors, Consultant, Phoenix BioConsulting, LLC

Dr. Charles L. Cooney, Robert T. Haslam (1911) Professor of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering, Department of Chemical Engineering and the Faculty Director of the Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation at MIT

Dr. Robert D. Kiss, Director, Late Stage Culture Development, Genentech, Inc., S. San Francisco, CA

Dr. Kristala L. Jones Prather, Associate Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering, MIT

Dr. James C. Leung, Adjunct Associate Professor, Northeastern University; Visiting Scientist, Department of Biology, MIT

Dr. J. Christopher Love, Associate Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering, MIT

Dr. Morris Z. Rosenberg, Consultant, MRosenberg BioPharma Consulting

Course Schedule: 

View 2019 Course Schedule (pdf)    

Class begins at 8:30 am on Monday and at 9:00 am the rest of the week. Class runs until 5:00 - 5:30 pm each day (variable) except for Friday when it ends at 12:30 pm.    

Special events include a reception for course participants and faculty on Monday night and a dinner on Thursday evening. All evening activities are included in the tuition.

Participants’ Comments: 


"I would definitely recommend this course to colleagues. In fact, I already have. I would recommend it because of its prominence in the pharmaceutical community... [T]his course is considered the very best in fermentation by word of mouth. It doesn't hurt that it is offered by the most prominent technological University in the country."


"It's a great overview of fermentation theories incorporating all aspects from research down to manufacturing functions. The presenters are all top-notch and knew how to keep their presentation interesting and engaging."


"It really passes the fundamentals of fermentation and gets into the real world of analytical measurement, scale-up, media formulation and the theory behind applications."


"I felt like the course was well organized, was a good blend of biology and engineering, and has a good balance of practical experience."


"The course covered a broad range of fermentation technology and engineering design. I believe all were able to take something away from the course and directly apply it to their daily roles, as well as learn something new about applications of fermentation technologies."


"Instructors provided a broad range of experience both in industry and academia. Went beyond the curriculum and provided real-world examples."


"Got to learn a great deal about the aspects of both mammalian and microbial cells and some of the challenges involved in fermentation of both cell types. Gained new knowledge and appreciation for cell fermentation that directly applies to the work I perform each day. With my new knowledge, I will be able to take on more duties and help ease the load of our current fermentation engineers, as well as bridging the gap between the genetic engineering and strain development side of things with the aspects of scaling up fermentations from shake flasks to bio-reactors."


"Planning, maintenance, manufacturing, and process engineers could all benefit from this course. Because of the broad range of topics and coverage of new technology, a higher level unit manager (esp. engineering) could benefit."


"This course allows me to ask better questions when I develop automation control solutions for my manufacturing science counterparts. This will also allow me to predict concerns from when products are transitioned to our site for the first time."



This course takes place on the MIT campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts. We can also offer this course for groups of employees at your location. Please complete the Custom Programs request form for further details.


Fundamentals: Core concepts, understandings, and tools (35%) 35
Latest Developments: Recent advances and future trends (15%) 15
Industry Applications: Linking theory and real-world (50%) 50

Delivery Methods: 

Lecture: Delivery of material in a lecture format (90%) 90
Discussion or Groupwork: Participatory learning (10%) 10



Introductory: Appropriate for a general audience (10%) 10
Specialized: Assumes experience in practice area or field (70%) 70
Advanced: In-depth explorations at the graduate level (20%) 20