Engineering Research Center (ERC) for Structured Organic Composites for Pharmaceutical, Nutraceutical, and Agrochemical Applications(C-SOC)

  • Muzzio, Fernando F.J. (PI)
  • Reklaitis, Gintaras G.V. (CoPI)
  • Dave, Rajesh (CoPI)
  • Cuitino, Alberto (CoPI)
  • Velazquez, Carlos C. (CoPI)
  • Romañach, Rodolfo (CoPI)

Project: Research project

Project Details


Project Summary


Background: The proposed ERC in Structured Organic Composites (C-SOC) will establish cutting-edge research, technology transfer, and educational/outreach to transform products and processes used for pharmaceutical, nutraceutical, and agrochemical delivery applications. The participating institutions have been carefully selected for their combined strengths in Pharmaceutical Engineering and in Nutraceuticals (Rutgers), Organic Nanomaterials (NJIT), and Industrial Pharmacy and Systems Engineering (Purdue) and Pharmaceutical Manufacturing (UPRM). Our main outreach institution, CCYN, provides additional strengths in particle synthesis, as well as further involvement of minorities through its LSAMP and AGEP programs.

Intellectual Merit: Product and process design in organic composites is mostly empirical due to the underlying complexity of processes and products. The intellectual goal of C-SOC is to transform this technology domain into a science-based enterprise. In order to develop a predictive understanding of the effects of material properties and process parameters on the functionality and performance of organic delivery systems, interconnected research projects will be organized into three thrust areas: (1) Materials Synthesis and Functionalization, (2) Composite Synthesis and Characterization, and (3) Manufacturing Science. Research will focus on developing the means for systematic materials functionalization and structuring, rigorous process scale-up, process optimization and control strategies that will revolutionize product and process design and development in the target industries.

Broader Impact: Improvements in this area will result in reduced cost and more consistent and reliable manufacture of biocompatible products as well as science-based, faster development of new products, and a more competitive US industry. Impact will be maximized by focusing on six technology test beds (integrated manufacturing platforms) that focus on multiple methodologies for synthesis of functionalized materials and finished products. To maximize technology transfer, the interconnected test beds will be organized into three materials development programs that cut across thrusts while following the typical product life cycle of the target industries: (1) Engineered Particulate Ingredients (crystals, precipitates, polymer nanoparticles) (2) Granular Micro-Composites (coated porous granular matrices), and (3) Macro-Composites (tablets, wafers, pellets).

Education, Outreach: Modernization of academic programs in relevant areas at all levels will be achieved via educational programs, both formal and experiential, based on a flexible system of 1-credit modules that provide innovative content in a scalable, portable format suitable for a wide variety of audiences ranging from HS teachers to graduate students to continuing education participants. Graduate education will be enhanced by the development of a 15-credit graduate training program in structured organic composites. Impact at the Undergraduate level will be accomplished by the organization of minor and certificate programs in Engineering, Chemistry, Pharmacy, and Food Science, REU activities, a student exchange and summer internship programs. K-12 outreach will focus on a structured 4-stage awareness development program including a RET program, a summer research internship (Camp Pharma), and a traveling 'lab on wheels' that introduces kids to engineering using demonstrations delivered in both English and Spanish.

Diversity Development: The aforementioned programs will synergize efforts that specifically target individuals from historically underrepresented populations (e.g. Midwest Crossroads AGEP, The Puerto Rico LSAMP). Strong minority access is also given by UPR participation, and by a comprehensive plan for minority recruitment and retention, including exchanges with minority-serving institutions, internship programs, advertisement campaigns in appropriate college newspaper. Many of the proposed ERC faculty members come from historically underrepresented populations and will serve as mentors and role models.

Industrial Participation: Industry will participate in the core research program using the multi-tiered memberships promoted by NSF. Approximately $1 million in (14) cash memberships has been committed to the proposed center. The ERC will also host company-specific research projects; additional cash funds also in excess to $1.6 million have been committed for this purpose by 24 companies. Active industrial participation in educational activities will be promoted by implementing internship programs and industrial participation in teaching activities, research, and mentoring.

Effective start/end date7/1/066/30/19


  • National Science Foundation: $35,456,362.00


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