Steven Cramer, the William Weightman Walker Professor of Polymer Engineering and a professor in the Isermann Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering for “scientific and technological advances leading to new chromatographic materials, processes, and predictive tools for the purification of biopharmaceuticals.”
Election to the National Academy of Engineering is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer. Academy membership honors those who have made outstanding contributions to “engineering research, practice, or education, including, where appropriate, significant contributions to the engineering literature” and to “the pioneering of new and developing fields of technology, making major advancements in traditional fields of engineering, or developing/implementing innovative approaches to engineering education.”
Cramer is one of the recognized leaders in chromatographic bioprocessing worldwide. For over 36 years, he and his students have combined elegant theoretical models and rigorous experimentation to make dramatic advances in several areas of preparative protein chromatography.
“Professor Cramer’s election to the NAE reflects his longtime dedication to his field,” said Rensselaer President Martin Schmidt ’81, Ph.D. “We are enormously proud of the impact he’s made on some of the world’s greatest challenges, as well as his many contributions to teaching and professional service.”
“Steve is an outstanding engineer, who has harnessed fundamental molecular level understanding of biomolecular interactions to solve some of the most vexing challenges facing the biotechnology industry,” said Shekhar Garde, dean of the School of Engineering. “Steve is also a wonderful mentor and a teacher, who has educated countless students who have become leaders in industry and academia. Through his contributions, he really has elevated the discipline of Chemical and Biological Engineering.”
Cramer is a member of the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies, and also serves as a faculty member in the Department of Biomedical Engineering and the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology.
Cramer earned his bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering from Brown University, and completed his master’s and doctoral degrees in chemical engineering at Yale University. Cramer joined the Rensselaer faculty as an assistant professor in 1986 and in 1990 was named the Isermann Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering. He became a full professor in 1995, and in 2007 was named the William Weightman Walker Professor of Polymer Engineering.
The Cramer lab’s research over the past 36 years has had a dramatic impact on state-of-the-art downstream bioprocessing and its successful implementation for the biomanufacturing of biological products. His lab is currently conducting research on several areas related to protein-surface interactions and molecular bioprocessing.
The Cramer lab was one of the first to employ high throughput screening for developing chromatographic bioprocesses, which has had a dramatic impact on the way bioprocess development is now carried out in the industry. The Cramer lab’s multidisciplinary work using a combination of biophysics, molecular dynamics simulations, and chromatography with protein libraries has provided significant insights into the design of novel multimodal chromatographic systems. In addition, recent work on integrated biomanufacturing and expedited process development is having a dramatic impact on how bioprocess development is carried out in the industry. The Cramer lab is now actively involved in several gene therapy downstream biomanufacturing projects, continuous mRNA processing, and several big data modeling efforts.
Cramer has won numerous awards including the ACS National Award in Separations Science and Technology, the ACS BIOT Division’s Michaels Award in the Recovery of Biological Products, and several awards from RPI including the Wiley Distinguished Faculty Award and the School of Engineering Outstanding Professor and Research Excellence Awards. In addition, he has been elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Institute of Chemical Engineers, the American Chemical Society, and the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering. A prolific researcher, Cramer holds 11 patents and has published more than 228 papers in peer-reviewed journals. He also served as editor-in-chief of the international journal Separation Science and Technology for 20 years.
Importantly, the 55 Ph.D. graduates from the Cramer lab have had a significant impact with many of his former students now playing key leadership roles in industrial bioprocessing at most of the major biopharmaceutical and bioseparations companies worldwide, as well as academia.