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The fourth annual Academic Cold Chain Forum kicked off April 11-12, 2012, at the Georgia Tech Research Institute Conference Center. The forum invited sixty participants from cold chain related fields such as regulatory agencies, academia, technology providers, transportation, food and pharmaceutical suppliers and retailers. The goal of the forum was to openly discuss advances, issues, and solve problems in the industry related to food and pharmaceutical cold chain products in order to better the entire industry. This multi-day forum offered presentations, panel discussion and hands-on workshops that covered a variety of handling, storage, and distribution issues related to temperature-sensitive materials.

For the first time we united key leaders in the food and pharmaceutical industries, resulting in a deeper understanding of their similarities and differences. Through honest communication, both industries realized that future collaborations on research and specific projects would lead to a greater success for the cold chain industry as a whole. Among the topics, growers and retailers identified critical challenges that would enhance the way the food retail industry connects to the customers needs. Multiple cold chain challenges were identified by the pharmaceutical industry that prioritized research initiatives and new concerns that need to be addressed.

One of the favorite workshops was by James Fesmire, Senior Principal Investigator at the NASA Cryogenics Laboratory where he educated participants on the principles of insulation and heat transfer. Mr. Fesmire shared cutting edge insulations developed for the space program and demonstrated the basic principles through fun and interactive experiments, including freezing marshmallow peeps and strawberries with liquid nitrogen.