MIT's Hockfield reports worrisome lack of interest in manufacturing

MIT president Susan Hockfield recently described as "worrisome" the responses she gets when she asks about manufacturing in the U.S.: "Half the people I talk to say, ‘This is the most important thing for the nation,' and the other half look at me quite quizzically, as if to say, ‘Didn't you get the memo? America doesn't do manufacturing anymore.'"

Hockfield has been asking about manufacturing in her new role as co-chair of President Barack Obama's $500 million Advanced Manufacturing Partnership. Her remarks came during a recent MIT forum, according to MIT news. Faculty, corporate partners and others attended to make the case for advanced manufacturing support. Among them was Bernhardt Trout, professor of chemical engineering. Trout is also head of the 10-year Novartis-MIT Center for Continuous Manufacturing, which aims to drag small-molecule drug-making out of the batch-era and into continuous processing.

Trout has said in the past that the traditional, small-molecule pharma company invests a "shockingly low" portion of its capital in product development, and that basic manufacturing technologies have not changed for decades. Trout is calling for a "retooling" of pharma manufacturing to continuous processes that would permit the combining of "two major processes: drug substance production and drug tablet production," yielding significant savings, according to the story.

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