An interview with Evan Krentzel, Research and Development Associate at MassBiologics, A Biotech Company in Boston, Massachusetts
Growing up as a naturally curious person, Evan Krentzel found himself in a career in the biomedical engineering industry at a company called MassBiologics, a biotechnology company that is owned by UMass Medical school. His role is in downstream process development and assay development.
For the non-sciency people in the room (which includes myself), Evan describes biomedical engineering as essentially viewing the body in its mechanical functions. He asks the questions: What is the purpose of your heart? Why does it beat? What is the mechanism in place for it to work properly, how and how often does this fail?
Again for the non-science people, an assay is essentially an assessment that determines the quantity of the component at question, as well as the quality the antibody possesses. The assay can test for the purity of the antibody, as well as any impurities, such as host-cell DNA. The assay can also test for potency, and one such assay is called an ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay). Each antibody is different, so the types of primary and secondary antibodies used in the ELISA will differ.
In downstream process development, Evan works in a lab to purify antibodies which will eventually become vaccines. Evan says, “The process is set in place; however, each antibody performs differently and has different amino acids, conformation, etc. We work from small scale ~1L of cell culture to upwards of 100L. We work to ensure that the process will scale up when it is eventually introduced to a manufacturing campaign.”
When asked how he first entered the field of biomedical engineering research, he said, “I absolutely love the body. It is truly fascinating.” After taking many physiology classes, it still amazes Evan how complex the human body is and how it operates to such a sophisticated level. “Each part of the body has a relatively crucial function for not only its system, but other systems that are dependent on these functions, as well as the body as a whole,” he said.
Evan graduated from Syracuse University, majored in Bioengineering, and was awarded the Karen M. Hiiemae Outstanding Achievement Award in Bioengineering in 2016. At Syracuse, Evan engineered a device known as a pulse-oximeter with a team of students. The device would ultimately shine a beam through the user’s finger, and the beam’s rate of absorption at particular wavelengths would reveal the subject’s real-time pulse. He was just 22 years old at the time.
He plans to obtain his PhD and MS in bioengineering in the near future, but perhaps what makes him a true rockstar in research, over and above his education, is his experience and diligent work ethic. When he isn’t running and exploring the city streets of Boston, Evan spends much of his free time reading articles in industry journals to keep up with the latest research in his field. He enjoys reading Microbiology, Journal of Biotechnology, and Journal of Biochemistry.
No two days end up the same for Evan, as he is constantly balancing a multitude of fascinating projects with his team. On a daily basis, Evan plans, prepares, executes, and analyzes samples to obtain results for his study. His best advice for anyone interested in the field is to persevere through the challenges in your research. Evan says: “Take each obstacle one step at a time, and use your engineering knowledge to find a way through, over, around it--however!”