Description (Brief)
This fermenter was used at Genentech during the early 1980s to grow recombinant bacteria for the production of proteins to be used as medicine. Recombinant bacteria have been genetically altered in a way that makes them capable of producing proteins they wouldn’t naturally produce.
To begin the production process, this fifteen-liter stainless steel tank was seeded with a small sample of recombinant bacteria. The tank provided an environment that encourages bacteria to grow and multiply by controlling the steam, water, temperature, and pressure in the tank. Below the tank is an agitation mechanism, that “stirred” the bacteria, ensuring even access to resources. When the bacteria grew to a number where they filled the tank, they were transferred to a larger fermentation tank as part of an industrial scale-up process.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
Genentech, Inc.
Physical Description
plastic (overall material)
glass (overall material)
metal (overall material)
overall: 43 in x 25 1/2 in x 30 in; 109.22 cm x 64.77 cm x 76.2 cm
United States: California, South San Francisco
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Science & Mathematics
Biotechnology and Genetics
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Biological Sciences
Biotechnology and Genetics
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of Genentech
Additional Media

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