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Biotech Facility


The University of North Carolina at Pembroke provides leadership, education and advocacy to make Southeast North Carolina the best place to live, work and visit. The UNCP Biotechnology Facility will provide a "Theory-into-Practice" environment for:

  • Education and training
  • Research
  • Technology transfer
  • Regional economic transformation

The University at North Carolina is proud to announce the completion of its Biotechnology Research Facility located off campus at the Carolina Commerce & Technology Center Park (COMtech). This new 5,000 sq. ft. facility consists of laboratories for fermentation, chemistry, molecular biology and other life science technologies. The UNCP Biotechnology Research Facility has the capacity to address research problems in all sectors of biotechnology: agriculture, manufacturing, environmental and biomedical.


Fermentation is the term used to describe any process for the production of a product by means of the culture of microorganisms or cells. Fermentation is often thought of as the "first step" in many biotechnology processes. Organic biological molecules, microbes, therapeutics, enzymes, antibiotics and vaccines are all produced using fermentation. Fermentation products can be either:

  1. The cells themselves. This is referred to as biomass production.
  2. A cell or microorganism's own metabolite referred to as a product from a natural or genetically improved strain.
  3. A cell or microorganism's foreign product from recombinant DNA technology or genetic engineering.

This fermentation technology applies chemistry, biochemistry, microbiology, molecular biology, computer science, engineering, physics and business. It is our goal to establish a UNCP Biotechnology Facility at the research/bench scale, expandable to the scale of a manufacturing pilot plant.


  • Amino acids Lipids
  • Antibacterial agents Nucleotides
  • Antifungal agents Organics
  • Carbohydrates Pharmaceuticals
  • Protein hormones Steroids
  • Enzymes Monoclonal antibodies
  • Foods Vitamins


  1. Batch fermentation is carried out in a closed-system bioreactor. The sterilized nutrient medium is seeded (inoculated) with living cells. The mixture is incubated with stirring under specific conditions and the culture grows. Typically nutrients are not added during the growth. Often, oxygen (aerobic microbes), an acid or base to control pH and an antifoam agent are added. The composition of the medium and the concentration of biomass and nutrients change with time. The cell composition of the culture can be described in four phases. Fed-batch fermentation is a variation of the above process in which liquid streams of nutrients are continuously added in predetermined amounts as the fermentation process progresses. This will have the effect of extending the stationary phase and allowing us to obtain additional product.
  2. Continuous Fermentation is considered to be an "open system" where nutrients are continuously added to the system and product is continuously removed. The cell growth is kept at steady state using chemostat or turbostat technology.


"The demand for new and improved commercial products increasingly will be met through bioprocessing, a type of advanced manufacturing that involves chemical, physical and biological processes employed by living organisms or their cellular components." (Biotechnology for the 21st Century, USDA)

"Our success as a nation depends on strengthening America’s role as the world’s engine of discovery and innovation," said President Obama.

"Biotech is the future of this state," North Carolina Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue proclaimed at the opening session of Biotech 2002, the 11th annual gathering of North Carolina's biotechnology community, May 20 in Research Triangle Park. As published in the BT Catalyst, Dr. Charles Hamner, Ph.D., retired president and CEO of the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, announced that "we are just now entering the exponential growth phase of this industry" and that "the best is yet to come." Dr. Hamner stated that the biotechnology industry would need to quadruple its biomanufacturing capacity in the next few years to keep pace with the development of emerging biological products. Dr. Hamner indicated that this demand will translate into as much as $5 billion in capital investments. Biomanufacturing "is a huge opportunity," and the state that provides the necessary infrastructure and trained work force "will be the next growth state in this country." The University of North Carolina at Pembroke is setting the stage to become a part of that growth.

The UNCP Biotechnology Facility houses laboratories, classrooms and offices for faculty, students and academic and industrial partners. Laboratory spaces include:

  • Microbiology/Molecular Genetics Laboratory
  • Analytical Quality Control-Assurance Laboratory
  • Biochemistry and Preparative Laboratory
  • Bench-to-Pilot Scale Fermentation Suite
  • Research / Visiting Researcher Laboratory


For more information, contact Len Holmes at 910.521.6650 or