Prof Enrique Galindo

The 7th IFS/Sven Brohult Awardee (2004)


Enrique Galindo did a BSc in Chemical Engineering and an MSc and PhD in biotechnology, all of them in Mexico. Currently he is Professor and Head of the Department of Cell Engineering and Biocatalysis of the Institute of Biotechnology of the National University of Mexico (IBT-UNAM). The main research contributions of Prof Galindo´s group have been in the area of bioprocess engineering, particularly in the understanding and improving of processes involving rheologically and hydrodynamically complex fermentations, as well as in the development and scale-up of bioprocesses.

The group directed by Prof. Galindo has worked on different aspects of the production of microbial polysaccharides using xanthan gum (produced by the bacterium Xanthomonas campestris) as one of the models. In this research line, the publications of Prof. Galindo's group have contributed, on the one hand, to the development of new methods for the screening, preservation and characterization of xanthan-producing strains and, on the other hand, to a better understanding of different aspects of the process engineering, including the rheology of fermentation broths, the optimization of mixing conditions, the efficient use of the power drawn by agitation, the diffusion characteristics of substrates and aspects of xanthan recovery by precipitation. More recently, Prof. Galindo has focused on the study of the production of alginate by Azotobacter vinelandii. In this research line, Galindo´s group has shown that the rigorous manipulation of fermentation conditions as well as the use of genetic-engineered mutants will considerably improve the possibility of the production of custom-made polymers, which could be competitive with the current commercial alginate (extracted from marine algae).

Part of the research work of Prof. Galindo is aimed at understanding better the interactions occurring in a fermentor between the microorganism and its environment (which are especially complex) with the purpose to develop improved fermentation processes. The studies carried out by Prof. Galindo´s group have been focused on stirred tanks (the most used configuration at industrial level), particularly using high viscosity systems, including cultures for the production of microbial polysaccharides (xanthan, alginates) and fermentations involving filamentous fungi. The production of aroma compounds by the fungi Trichoderma harzianum has been used as a model of study. In that system, the production of 6-pentyl-alfa-pyrone (coconut aroma) has been studied. Strategies such as extractive fermentation (using oils or solvents) and bio-elicitation (using phytopatogenic fungi) have allowed the development of a process having a ten-fold increase in the production of the pyrone. The group of Prof. Galindo has shown the important and critical role that hydrodynamic conditions play in metabolite production in this four-phases fermentation, which includes a fungus with complex morphology.

An important experimental infrastructure has been designed and built by Prof. Galindo's group, particularly in the area of mixing and accurate power drawn measurement. The equipment built with the IFS resources -along with other equipments acquired with the support of other institutions- is unique in Latin America. This includes accurate torquemeters, and a novel on-line rig for the measurement and control of power drawn in pilot scale fermenters.

Up to 2004, the scientific contributions of Prof. Galindo have been published in nearly 90 papers, which have mainly appeared in international peer-reviewed journals, which are among the most important and prestigious in the field of biotechnology/bioengineering as well as in peer-reviewed contributions in the most prestigious Conference Proceedings of the fields of mixing and bioreactor fluid dynamics.

Prof. Galindo´group has participated in the development of biotechnological processes that have been transferred to Industry. The processes include the enzyme-mediated production of 6-aminopenicillanic acid, a high productivity process for the production of yeast as inoculum in alcoholic fermentation, as well as processes for the production of technical and food grade of the microbial polysaccharide xanthan gum. His group has also developed pilot-scale technology for the production of biological control agents (based on the pilot production of indigenous bacteria and yeast and their formulation) to be used for the prevention of anthracnose disease in mango, a product in which Mexico is the first exporter worldwide. These products have been tested semi-commercially in mango plantations and, when applied in the field, have achieved similar or lower levels of anthracnose severity if compared with the current commercial chemical fungicides. This allows the producers to reduce or decrease substantially the use of chemical fungicides, which are restricted in the export markets. Furthermore, the application of the biological products has extended the shelf life and the quality of the mangoes produced. Biological control agents containing Trichoderma have been produced as well for the control of fungal diseases of important Mexican exports, such as tomato.

In addition to his important scientific contributions, Prof. Galindo has participated actively in educational publications and editorial work. He has edited three books, has published TV scripts, technical reviews, chapters in books, and other related publications. Prof. Galindo has been very active in the training of human resources. He teaches regularly an advanced course on Biochemical Engineering in the postgraduate program of the IBT-UNAM. Prof. Galindo has also directed a total of 46 theses (BSc: 25, MSc: 17, PhD: 4) all of them involving experimental work. Practically all of his postgraduate students (and some of his BSc students) are authors or co-authors in international peer reviewed papers. Several of his former postgraduate students are presently researchers or research assistants. A number of his BSc students have positions in industry.

Prof. Galindo is recognized as one of the most important biotechnologists in Mexico. He has been distinguished as National Researcher (at its highest level) by the Mexican Science and Technology Council. The Mexican Academy of Science has distinguished Dr. Galindo with the highest honor a scientist under 40 years old is able to receive in Mexico, the National Award of Scientific Research. He is currently a member of the selected group of scientists who act as an Advisory Committee of the government of Mexico in matters of Science and Technology. Not only the scientific and technological achievements of Prof. Galindo are very important, he is well known as a promoter of biotechnology and bioengineering in the country. His peers elected him as President (1998-2000) of the Mexican Society of Biotechnology and Bioengineering (SMBB), the most important professional Society in the field in Mexico. He has organized meetings in which academicians, industrialists and congressmen have discussed how biotechnology can be fostered in Mexico.

The leadership and achievements of Prof. Galindo are also recognized internationally. He has been invited to Scientific Committees of International Conferences, such as the International Conference on Bioreactors and Bioprocess Fluid Dynamics and the International Symposium on Mixing in Industrial Processes. He is currently a member of Executive Committee of the North American Mixing Forum, an international group that organizes the most important Conferences in the field. IFS awarded him the King Baudouin Award in 1996, the Silver Jubilee Award in 1999 and, on November 29th, 2004, the 7th Sven Brohult Award. He has been a Scientific Adviser for IFS since 1996. He has organized (as co-chairman) the 1st (1994), 2nd (1997) and 3rd (2002) International Symposia on Bioprocess Engineering, events in which delegates from more than 35 countries have participated.

Prof. Galindo´s career represents one of the most outstanding of a Latin American biotechnologist, combining high-level science, successful technology developments, an important participation in human resources training, and a commitment for the promotion and development of biotechnology and bioengineering in the area.

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Prof Enrique Galindo

Prof Enrique Galindo