Dr Balaji Somasundaram


Dr. Balaji Somasundaram is an early career scientist specializing in process development in the downstream of protein production. He completed his PhD at The University of Canterbury (UC), under the supervision of Professor Conan Fee, where he successfully developed a label-free surface plasmon resonance assay to monitor influenza drug resistance. Due to the disruptions caused by the 2011 Christchurch earthquake, Dr. Somasundaram travelled to The University of Queensland (UQ) to work with protein production experts at the Protein Expression Facility (PEF) to produce recombinant influenza neuraminidase proteins. He then took this system back to New Zealand and built an insect cell culture lab for protein production at UC’s Biomolecular Interaction Centre. During his PhD, he won the UC College of Engineering “Thesis in three” competition and was placed third overall in the University. With research interests in protein production, he later joined PEF as protein production specialist, under the supervision of Associate Professor Linda Lua.  At PEF, Dr. Somasundaram has produced more than fifty recombinant proteins from four different expression systems. In parallel, under the supervision of Assoc. Prof. Lua, he also worked on production and characterization of human enterovirus-like particle vaccine candidates.
Dr. Somasundaram then moved to his home country, India, to join Pfizer Biologics Development Centre as downstream process research scientist. At Pfizer, he has worked on both early and late stage R&D. This industrial experience has enabled him to develop expertise in downstream platform process development, scale-down model qualification and downstream process characterization.
Dr. Somasundaram has recently joined ARC Training Centre for Biopharmaceutical Innovation (CBI) as Downstream Bioprocessing Postdoctoral Research Fellow. The centre’s strong collaboration with biopharma industry has been the driving force for Dr. Somasundaram to join CBI. At CBI, he will be working on biopharmaceutical downstream process intensification by developing continuous chromatography and membrane-based separation processes. Both these projects have great potential to directly contribute to significant cost-savings for the biopharma industry by improving production rate and reducing capital & operational costs.


PhD in Chemical and Process Engineering, University of Canterbury