Streamlining Life Sciences with Electrochemistry

Dr. Sheldon Broedel has been in the biotechnology industry for 28 years and for 22 of these he has been the owner and president of the life science technology development company, AthenaES.

Based in Baltimore, MD, AthenaES has built its reputation through a range of products designed to solve barriers in protein production and purification. These include novel host-vector expression systems, specialized and custom culture media formulations, protein refolding and assay reagents, and advanced downstream chromatography purification systems.

Providing Tools for Protein Production

As Broedel's said, "Proteins are the workhorse in the biological world. Proteins do all the work, and so they can be utilized to affect disease outcome, they can be used to convert one chemical into another chemical in a manufacturing process. Basically, what our company does is provide researchers with the tools they need to do a better job producing those proteins: in other words, to make them faster, better, cheaper."

Three units make up AthenaES:

  • Environmentally friendly and economically feasible products and manufacturing processes are developed within the Environmental Sciences unit
  • Novel approaches are developed to address infectious and inflammatory diseases within the Exploratory Sciences unit
  • Tools are designed developed and manufactured within the Enzyme Systems business unit to improve the production and recovery of proteins for the industrial, academic, biotechnology, and biopharmaceutical industries.

OHAUS ST5000pH Meter

The OHAUS ST5000pH meter with an STMICRO5 electrode has been used more recently by Broedel and his team in the lab. Broedel said: "I've known about OHAUS for quite a few years, I'm not sure I can even date back how far it goes because I've seen OHAUS scales and balances since I was in college. We've had OHAUS products in our own laboratory since we set up a manufacturing operation in 2001."

Many of the solutions in the life science industry today are researched and developed in the laboratory. The pH measurement is heavily relied upon for the development and testing of enzymes and proteins as Broedel explains: "pH measurement is routinely used for preparing buffers, making media solutions, and we use it for applications development so we know the pH of a particular solution," he says.  "Having a pH meter that is reliable and robust and accurate is extremely important to us. The OHAUS ST5000 provides that reliability and robustness in our everyday use."

Sophisticated Technology

According to a scientist in the AthenaES R&D lab, Mandie Combs, the ST5000's sophisticated technology has helped her in every day work, in particular the meter's modern data transfer protocol. "The ST5000 offers a USB data transfer, which is particularly useful," she says, adding that "the data transfer capability is a key attribute, because we see that as supporting the protein purification work that we do."

Combs also describes how appreciative the lab is for the sophisticated data analysis and export features of the ST5000, saying "The most useful features, for us, have definitely been the ability to transfer recorded data to a tab-delineated file and the ability to quickly store samples data; especially when numerous samples are involved." The ST5000 and STMICRO5 has made AthenaES lab more reliable and robust but is also very convenient. "It's very easy to do the calibration setup," she says, "so I can go from buffer to buffer, set up my calibrator curve, and it's essentially ready to go."

Transport samples had to be transported via testing strips to the stationary pH meter so as not to contaminate the meter. "Prior to the arrival of the ST5000, the only pH meter we had was designated to our manufacturing area, which meant a lot of back and forth for our R&D team," says Combs. This method was not only time-consuming but also made microplate testing convoluted and increased the possibility of inaccuracies.

The most useful feature from Combs perspective is the STMICRO5's long, narrow shaft. A more efficient testing method is now facilitated as Combs and her team are able to carry out pH testing from well to well, providing a higher resolution of analysis. "Our lab does assay work that requires the use of microplates, which a traditional probe cannot be used with. With the STMICRO5 electrode, the pH of each well can be determined. The microprobe allows me to determine the pH at which the target protein elutes, in small fractions."


In conclusion, the AthenaES R&D team found their newest OHAUS products easy and effective to use, meaning that samples could be tested quickly and accurately. Their workflow has expanded and become more streamlined as a result. An added bonus to the meter's capabilities are the ST5000's compliance features. Combs said, "As we look to move forward in our lab using the ST5000, I think the meter having the built-in GLP/GMP feature is good to have, should we need to increase our level of regulatory compliance."

Learn more about the OHAUS Starter Series

About OHAUS Corporation

OHAUS Corporation manufactures an extensive line of weighing products, laboratory equipment and analytical instruments that meet the weighing and measurement needs of virtually every industry.

They are a global leader in the laboratory, industrial and education channels, as well as a host of specialty markets, including the food preparation, pharmacy and jewelry industries. An ISO 9001:2008 manufacturer, OHAUS products are precise, reliable and affordable, and backed by industry-leading customer support.

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Last updated: Nov 5, 2019 at 7:40 AM


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