Pfizer’s Ranga Godavarti Is AIChE’s 2023 Industrial R&D Award Recipient

AIChE’s Industrial Research and Development Award recognizes individuals or teams working in industries served by chemical engineers, for innovation that has resulted in the commercial development of new products and/or new processes for making useful products. The award is sponsored by AbbVie.

In 2023, the Industrial R&D Award is being presented to Ranga Godavarti, Vice President of Bioprocess Research and Development at Pfizer. He is being honored “for outstanding leadership of pharmaceutical development, including development of the COVID vaccine.”

Dr. Godavarti and the other Institute and Board of Directors’ Award honorees will receive their prizes at the 2023 AIChE Annual Meeting, November 5–10 in Orlando, Florida.

About Ranga Godavarti and his work

Over the past three decades, Ranga Godavarti has helped to commercialize more than 15 biologic medicines and vaccines. His group at Pfizer is responsible for the cell line development; process development, characterization, and technology transfer; and non-clinical and clinical manufacturing for all of the company’s biotherapeutics — including proteins, vaccines, and gene therapies — in early- and late-stages of development.

Among his career highlights, Godavarti and his team were instrumental in the development and implementation of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, Comirnaty. 

Developing a commercial process for vaccine manufacturing typically takes between three and five years. Using a novel messenger RNA (mRNA) platform technology, Godavarti and his team accomplished the feat in less than four months. Prior to the COVID vaccine, there was no technology to make vaccines at global scale using mRNA technology. Godavarti led his team to invent a large-scale process and delivered billions of vaccine doses using that technology. Also, after transferring the laboratory scale process to large-scale manufacturing, Godavarti managed one of the facilities that manufactured more than half of the vaccine supplies.

Prior to joining Pfizer, Godavarti received his MS in chemical engineering practice and a PhD in chemical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has authored several publications and has been a co-inventor on multiple patents. He also serves on the scientific advisory board of Keck Graduate Institute’s Amgen Bioprocessing Center, and he received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the National Institute of Technology, Trichy. 

This fall, ChEnected is presenting profiles of all the 2023 Institute and Board of Directors’ Award recipients. Visit ChEnected regularly to meet the honorees.