Gregory Stephanopoulos wins Novozymes Award for Excellence in Biochemical and Chemical Engineering

Friday 08 Dec 17

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Anders Østerby Mønsted
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DTU Biosustain
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Professor of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology at MIT, Gregory Stephanopoulos, receives prestigious Novozymes prize for his research on how to use metabolic engineering and chemical engineering to produce pharmaceutical drugs, biochemicals, and biofuels.

At an official ceremony held at the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability at the Technical University of Denmark, Prof. Gregory Stephanopoulos received the Novozymes Award for Excellence in Biochemical and Chemical Engineering. The award goes to a distinguished chemical or biochemical engineer and includes a monetary prize of 100,000 Danish Kroner.

Stephanopoulos is presently directing a research group of approximately 25 researchers who mostly work on applications of metabolic engineering for the production of fuels and chemicals. 

"It is a new type of organic chemistry and I would say that the big advantage of biological processes is that they have high specificity. When it comes to producing commodity chemicals it becomes harder to compete with the chemical industry because they produce them in very large volume and at very low prices," says Gregory Stephanopoulos.

New understanding of biological systems
"Stephanopoulos' excellent research has laid the foundation for using biology to produce various products"
Claus Crone Fuglsang, Senior Vice President of Research and Technology at Novozymes

Even though chemical processes have the advantage of being faster because they can increase the temperature, which can not be done with microbes, the MIT professor sees a great potential in industrial biotechnology.

"It turns out that for many products the specificity prevails because the chemical plant is going to be smaller and cost less money. It takes better advantage of the feedstock which dominates the cost of the final product," he says.

According to Senior Vice President of Research and Technology at Novozymes, Claus Crone Fuglsang, Stephanopoulos' research contributes to dealing with some of the major challenges that the world are facing.

"His work contributes to using biology to solve some of the world's biggest issues, such as rising greenhouse gas emissions and other challenges linked to climate change. His research has also laid the foundation for using biology to produce various products," says Fuglsang.

Previous recipients of the Novozymes Award for Excellence in Biochemical and Chemical Engineering includes professor emeritus John Villadsen (DTU) and professor Bernhard Palsson, CEO at the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability (DTU).

 

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