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Mo Jiang, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Chemical and Life Science Engineering
Mo Jiang, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Chemical and Life Science Engineering

Q&A with Mo Jiang, Ph.D.

Improving the process of manufacturing pharmaceuticals and other biochemical products is a major research focus area of Mo Jiang, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Chemical and Life Science Engineering.

1. What are you working on right now?

Our current focus is green manufacturing and advanced biochemical separations, for cleaner, faster and easier manufacturing of high-quality biochemical products, such as pharmaceuticals. Specifically, we have designed advanced scalable processes and equipment to manufacture uniform crystals and particles with controlled properties.

2. What do you hope to achieve with this research?

We hope advanced manufacturing processes can help reduce the costs of high-quality medicines and other important products so that more people can benefit from them. We also strive to make the manufacturing process itself less of a burden to the environment, and want to ensure that the process is safe for the operators.

3. How will this research make a difference?

Each tablet or capsule has to contain exactly the same amount of active pharmaceutical ingredients, and perform the same under the same conditions. These qualities are directly affected by the crystalline form and crystal size of active pharmaceutical ingredients. Saving time spent in troubleshooting and in the correction step — without sacrificing the quality of the product — can reduce the overall time and cost.

4. Tell us how you are developing this.

We make crystals or particles directly into the required controlled qualities, so that the commonly needed correction step is not needed anymore. The correction step in manufacturing usually increases the processing time, reduces the yield and may not always preserve the product quality. We also reduce the time needed for typically time-consuming processes, for instance, by using the same equipment with multiphase flow for scaling up (usually the equipment size needs to be increased).

5. Who is involved in these projects?

The projects are collaborative and interdisciplinary. Our lab is made up of several outstanding VCU students in the Department of Chemical and Life Science Engineering. We have also been collaborating and establishing collaboration with faculty and students in other departments.

Fun fact: I have found that most students in my class and my lab are smarter than I am.