Mission Statement

Mission Statement

Our Mission

The BioTechnology Institute (BTI) provides advanced research, training, and industry interaction in biological process technology, a major area of biotechnology research. The Institute is the central University of Minnesota vehicle for coordinated research in the biological, chemical, and engineering aspects of biotechnology and home to the MnDRIVE Environment Initiative 

BTI’s Mission

(1) Advance and support cross-disciplinary research and innovation at the forefront of biotechnology, (2) Support workforce and professional skills training in biotechnology, (3) Facilitate and develop industry relations in biotechnology, (4) Serve as a central biotechnology resource on campus and (5) Provide biomanufacturing expertise and services to the University, Minnesota, and industry through its BioResource Center (BRC).

BTI Accomplishes its mission by:

(1) bringing together life-science and engineering faculty, researchers, postdocs, and students with shared research interests in biotechnology-related disciplines and
(2) providing administrative support and resources for scientific exchange, networking, collaborative research, and professional skills development and training of its community members.

Core Values

BTI is dedicated to fostering a safe, equitable, inclusive, and collaborative environment for its students, researchers, staff, and faculty. BTI values diversity of backgrounds, disciplines, and experiences as critical factors for achieving its mission of cutting-edge biotechnology research, training, and service.
The following core principles guide BTI:
Collaboration and Teamwork
Innovation and Excellence

Vision and Goals

BTIs goals are:

I. To be a major driver for the creation of a sustainable bioeconomy in MN by promoting and prioritizing cutting-edge fundamental and applied research towards the development of crucial enabling biotechnologies and synthetic biology approaches. BTI drives advances in a broad array of applications, including:

  • (1) carbon capture and conversion,
  • (2) sustainable biomanufacturing of value-added compounds and advanced materials,
  • (3) bioremediation, recycling, and recovery of valuable elements and molecules,
  • (4) discovery and design of therapeutics, diagnostics, materials, and processes
II To become a key player on campus for future MN bioeconomy workforce development by:
(1) offering up-to-date biotechnology training, professional skills development, and industrial networking
opportunities to our students, postdocs, and research staff.
(2) supporting the creation and implementation of relevant biotechnology curricula and skills training activities.
III. To expand BTIs visibility and footprint locally and nationally by:
(1) expanding its industrial relations and connections through its BRC, faculty expertise, and entrepreneurship
(2) effective communication and promotion.
2023 Spring Events

2023 Spring Events

Minneapolis skyline at sunset with roads and trains in the foreground

2022 Fall Eevnts

University of Minnesota- BioTechnology Institute

New fall events will be posted as information becomes available 

Check back in Mid-Septembeer to see all the events for this upcoming fall.

Visual Science

Visual Science

Visual Sicence
Linda Kinkel’s research focuses on the ecology of microbial communities in native prairie and agricultural soils. Kinkel’s work on the ecology and evolutionary biology of streptomycetes and other antibiotic producing bacteria has potential applications in the management of soil-borne plant pathogens.  Her current research, supported by MnDRIVE, will examine the impact of microbial inoculants and carbon inputs on disease suppression and plant productivity in Minnesota’s potato crop.  Learn more about Linda’s research.
Visual Science

Bio & Tech Innovation Flash Talks

Bio & Tech Innovation Flash Talks


Bio & Tech Innovation Flash Talks

The Bio & Tech Innovation (BTI) Series is a seminar series led by graduate students and postdocs to foster career development in industrial applications and academic research in biotechnology-related fields.
Flash Talks and Social Hour
– Director’s Introduction (by Claudia Schmidt-Dannert)
– Flash Talk session
– Social Hour (food and drinks)

Pizza and refreshments will be served on a first-come, first-served basis.

FRIDAY, APR. 29  |  12:00-1:30 PM CST  |  CARGILL 105  |  HYBRID SEMINAR
TO JOIN REMOTELY, GO TO: http://umn.zoom.us/j/5522838109

Michi Taga

Michi Taga

Michi Taga

University of California, Berkeley

Corrinoids in Communities: Nutrient sharing in the microbial world

Microbial communities inhabit nearly all environments on earth. These communities are often composed of hundreds or more species that form networks of metabolic interactions.

Because metabolic interactions are complex and difficult to study at a molecular level, my research focuses on interactions involving one family of metabolites — corrinoid cofactors — as a model to understand metabolic interactions among bacteria. Corrinoids are the vitamin B12 family of cobalt-containing metabolites that function as enzyme cofactors in the majority of organisms. Corrinoids, like many other metabolites, are synthesized by only a fraction of bacteria that use them, but unlike other metabolites are a structurally diverse group of cofactors.

We have found that addition of particular corrinoids to communities derived from soil and from the human gut can alter the bacterial composition, leading to the exciting possibility that corrinoids may be used to manipulate microbiomes.


Eric Helfrich

Eric Helfrich

BTI Eric Helfrich

Eric Helfrich

Goethe University Frankfurt

Ecology-inspired & genomics-assisted discovery of bioactive natural products

Bacteria biosynthesize structurally diverse small molecules to interact with their environment. Many of the complex natural products involved in this “metabolic small talk” have been exploited as drugs in human and veterinary medicine.
Genome mining, i.e., the screening of genome sequences for their natural product biosynthetic potential, has revolutionized natural product discovery. Several generations of highly so-phisticated genome mining pipelines have been developed for the identification and annotation of natural product biosynthetic blueprints in genome sequences and to predict the structures of the associated metabolites.

Most genome mining pipelines are based on the seemingly universal biosynthetic principles deciphered for each natural product class. Natural products whose biosynthesis deviates from these seemingly universal rules, however, are in many cases overlooked by state-of-the-art genome mining algorithms. The corresponding non-canonical biosynthetic blueprints display an almost untapped treasure map for the identification of novel bioactive metabolites.
We develop artificial intelligence-based genome mining algorithms to chart this biosynthetic dark matter and to identify putative non-canonical biosynthetic transformations with the goal to expand natural product chemical space.