Jens Nielsen, Professor at the Chalmers University of Technology as well as a scientific director at DTU Biosustain and CEO of the BioInnovation Institute in Denmark, has been named the recipient of the inaugural Gregory N. Stephanopoulos Award for Metabolic Engineering. The award, presented every two years by the International Metabolic Engineering Society (IMES), a community within the American Institute of Chemical Engineers’ (AIChE’s) Society for Biological Engineering, recognizes a prominent scientist or engineer who has made seminal contributions to the industrial translation of basic developments in metabolic engineering, or quantitative analysis, design, and modeling of metabolism.
Nielsen is being honored for his contributions to the establishment of biobased production of fuels and chemicals. Professor Sang Yup Lee, the chair of the award selection committee, said, “His in silico systems biology and metabolic engineering tools, together with creative strategies for microbial metabolic engineering, have been used widely in biotech industry and also have led to the establishment of several companies.” The Gregory N. Stephanopoulos Award for Metabolic Engineering and an associated lecture by Nielsen will be presented during the IMES-sponsored Metabolic Engineering XIV conference, July 11–15, 2021 in Honolulu, HI, USA.
Prof. Jens Nielsen is a world-leader in systems biology of metabolism. He has used his competence to engineer yeast for the production of fuels, bulk chemicals, specialty chemicals, nutraceuticals, food and feed ingredients, and pharmaceuticals; to study the function of human gut microbiota; and to identify cancer biomarkers. In all three areas he has demonstrated the ability to translate his cutting-edge science into use for society by forming consultancies, founding spin-out companies, and filing patent applications that have been licensed to international biotech companies.
Much of his research has been translated to industry either by licensing inventions to multi-national companies or by forming the basis of six biotech companies he has founded. Prof. Nielsen is also an active contributor to the scientific community as an editor of six key journals and member of the editorial board of another 20+ journals, as well as through leadership roles in the community; he is founding president of the International Metabolic Engineering Society (IMES).
The International Metabolic Engineering Society promotes the use of metabolic engineering — the optimization of the genetic and regulatory processes within cells — as an enabling science for bio-based production of advanced materials, pharmaceuticals, food ingredients, chemicals, and fuels. One of its venues for collaboration and information exchange is the biannual Metabolic Engineering Conference, where practitioners share knowledge and discuss current developments made in the field.