Brian Mckellar is the manufacturing manager at EpiBone Inc, a biotech start-up seeking to transform skeletal repair. Since joining in 2015, Brian has progressed the development of EpiBone’s products and is now leading the Phase I/II clinical manufacturing of EpiBone’s tissue-engineered anatomical bone graft. Brian received his MS/BS in Biomedical Engineering from Pennsylvania State University. Brian is speaking at our upcoming 3D Bioprinting for the Bone webinar.
Jenny: When was the first encounter you had with 3D printing?
Brian: My first real exposure to 3D printing was as an undergrad at Penn State when another student and I were tasked with evaluating, purchasing, and subsequently building a 3D printer for the lab we were working in. It was not until day 3 when I realized we were way over our heads, but in the end, we were successful! I remember being amazed and proud that when we finished that we could print any design that we could find online or make ourselves.
Jenny: What inspired you to start your career?
Brian: The human body has always fascinated me and that is what drew me into the biomedical space. As a biomedical engineer, I find great pleasure in applying man-made technologies to biology.
Jenny: Who inspired you the most along this journey in biofabrication?
Brian: The co-founder and CSO of EpiBone, Sarindr Bhumiratana, has inspired me the most. He has done an amazing job of bringing the technology from an academic laboratory setting into a clinical-stage company. He always has a positive attitude and works harder than anyone. Daily he inspires me to be my best.
Jenny: What motivates you the most for your work?
Brian: The biggest motivator for me is creating something that will help people. The products we are working on at EpiBone have the potential to improve patient outcomes and their quality of life.
Jenny: What is the biggest obstacle in your line of work? If you have conquered them, what were your solutions?
Brian: Since this is such a novel field, the biggest obstacle we have experienced is generating procedures, policies, and specifications for our product despite the lack of guidance and standards out there. The best way we have found to accommodate this is to have a holistic approach to each question and fully defining the problem and potential solutions.
Jenny: What do you think is the biggest challenge in biofabrication? What do you think the potential solution(s) is (are)?
Brian: I think the biggest challenge is being able to integrate and grow with tissue engineering and bioengineering technology. While the benefits of 3D printing are clear, it is not trivial to bring these two technologies together. The solutions for this problem will stem from the usability and flexibility of 3D printing.
Jenny: If you are granted three wishes by a higher being, what would they be?
- World peace
- Ability to fly
- Set the Genie free
Jenny: What advice would you give to a smart driven college student in the “real world”? What bad advice you heard should they ignore?
Brian: The best advice I would give is to enjoy the process. Especially in biotechnology, there is no short journey. If you spend time thinking about it, I just have to get to this point or this milestone to be happy. You’ll spend so much of your time chasing those milestones since there’s always something else to achieve. Instead, enjoy the detail and nitty-gritty along the way and it will all work out.
Luckily I cannot remember a piece of bad advice I’ve heard.