SPOTLIGHT ON INDUSTRY: Ian Hodgson, Head of Molecular Biology, FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies


Ian Hodgson, Head of Molecular Biology, FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies

What is your background and current job role?

I did a degree in Biochemistry, a PhD in Molecular Biology, and after the obligatory post-doc, started work for ICI (as it was) then as a Molecular Biologist in 1989. I’ve now worked for five different companies without moving buildings, after moving to Billingham in 1992 which was developing a business in what would be now called white biotechnology (speciality enzymes, biodegradable polymers etc).

With changes in strategy and company name/ ownership (Zeneca, Avecia, Merck, Fujifilm) the business at Billingham moved from a focus on industrial biotechnology into biotherapeutic proteins and has operated as a contract development and manufacturing organisation for ca 15 years now. My current area of responsibility is Head Of Molecular Biology, which covers a range of activities in both Microbial and Mammalian Expression Systems.

What industrial biotechnology and bioenergy (IBBE) related project is currently being undertaken by your organisation?

We have a number of external projects running but one project I am directly involved with is a collaboration with the University of Edinburgh to investigate using E.coli turgor pressure regulation to optimise product excretion. E coli remains a very versatile expression system used by many of our clients for producing their biotherapeutics proteins. The aim of this project is have product excreted into the growth media while preventing unwanted cytoplasmic leakage. This should provide higher quality material for the start of downstream purification with reduction in host cell proteins and other cell derived species. This collaboration initiated as a CBMNet proof of concept study which then progressed to a collaborative project involving funding from IBioIC.

What do you think the challenges related to this project are in the next 1-5 years

The biggest challenge will be to characterise enough about the impact of turgor pressure on product excretion to be able to know how generally it can be applied and key variables . Additionally at the moment all studies planned at present are laboratory scale so it will be very exciting to see if the data from the project will lead to the need to scale up to full manufacturing fermentation scale at 5000L and above.

How can other CBMNet members help you and your organisation with your research.

We have collaborations with other CBMNet members including Louise Horsfall also at University of Edinburgh and with Graham Stafford at The University of Sheffield.  We are always looking out for new ideas and approaches which would enable better and more informed development and manufacturing approaches to Biotherapeutics to be achieved. Implementation of these will have potential overall benefits to ourselves and society generally through making new medicines available more quickly and more broadly.

You can contact John by emailing him at

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