Professor Steve Oh
PhD Chemical Engineering, 1990
Institute Scientist and Director, Bioprocessing Technology Institute, A*STAR
I plan out experiments, supervisor projects, review data on a weekly basis to ensure funded projects go according to plan. My area is Stem Cell Bioprocessing, where we develop methods to manufacture stem cells at a large scale so that eventually they will be ready for transfusion into patients for therapy and to heal incurable diseases. I also write a lot of grants in order to fund my projects in research. I am on international committees for stem cells, manufacturing and banking in order to set good standards for the field of cell & gene therapies.
What is the best thing about what you are doing now?
The best thing that I do is that I can chose the direction of research and investigation. I also enjoy publishing scientific papers, inventing new patents that can be licensed to companies and also spinning off companies with the patents to build new businesses.
What made you interested in your current role?
I entered the nascent field of biotech in the late 1980’s when Biotechnology as a field was just growing. Then I got to learn about the challenges of manufacturing cells and proteins as products. This was a niche area where biology and engineering intersected and that peaked my curiosity. I have stayed in this space ever since and now tackle stem cells which are the toughest cells to make in a bioprocess!
How has your career developed since graduating from the University of Birmingham?
After my PhD I led a small team at the Bioprocessing Technology Unit in Singapore where I built a lab and made my first invention. Four years later, I joined a multi-national Pall Corp. and was Technical Manager supporting the Asia Pacific regions for 6.5 years. In 2001, I got the opportunity to start a group in Stem Cell Bioprocessing. I have been inventing things and publishing high impact, practical papers ever since!
What skills you learned from degree, or time at Univeristy, would you say you use most in your job?
The skills I learnt was to think like an engineer, make clear and jargon free presentations that stay in the audience’s mind and be versatile to always explore fields peripheral to my main discipline.
Why did you originally apply to Birmingham?
I had a Ph.D project offer which was both challenging and the people were nice. Prof. Alvin Nienow, Nick Emery and Mohamed Al-Rubeai.
What are your fondest memories of the University?
The green campus, freedom to think and the good breads along the side streets. Not sure if they are still there now?
Did you get involved in any extracurricular activities as a student?
Yes, mostly serving students at the Union.
How did your time at university help you start your career?
Being able to make presentations at International meetings. I loved the networking opportunities!
Final words of advice from Prof Oh
“I was happy with what I got during my 3 years at Brum! Just do what you LOVE and don't worry. BE HAPPY!”