Society for Biological Engineering Announces Inaugural Winners of Wang Award

April 18, 2012

NEW YORK – The Society for Biological Engineering (SBE) of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) has announced the inaugural winners of the D. I. C. Wang Award for Excellence in Biochemical Engineering. The inaugural recipients of the award,  established in appreciation of Professor Daniel I.C. Wang of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), are Noubar Afeyan of Flagship Ventures and James Swartz of Stanford University. 

The award is presented to a distinguished biochemical engineer and biotechnologist by both the Biochemical Technology Division of the American Chemical Society (ACS) and by the Food, Pharmaceutical and Bioengineering Division of AIChE. Afeyan received his award late last month at the ACS Spring Meeting in San Diego. Swartz will receive his award at AIChE’s Annual Meeting in Pittsburgh in late October.

Miriam Cortes-Caminero, SBE’s executive director, said the award was named to “recognize Professor Wang’s many contributions to education and research in biochemical engineering, as well as his innovations in bioprocessing.” Wang was the founding chair of SBE.  

Afeyan is founder, managing partner and chief executive officer of Flagship Ventures, an early-stage venture capital firm. He has co-founded and helped build 24 successful life science start-ups, including Chemgenics Pharmaceuticals (acquired by Millennium Pharmaceuticals), Color Kinetics (acquired by Philips), and Adnexus Therapeutics (acquired by Bristol-Myers Squibb). He was founder and CEO of PerSeptive Biosystems, which grew to over $100,000,000 in sales within six years.

Afeyan is also a senior lecturer at MIT”s Sloan School of Management. He earned his PhD in biochemical engineering at MIT. He is a member of the advisory boards of the Yale Climate Change & Energy Initiative and the SKOLKOVO School of Management in Moscow. He is also a member of the Board of Overseers of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

Swartz, who is a James H. Clark Professor at Stanford, where he specializes in cell-free biology, also received his doctorate from MIT. He joined the Stanford faculty in 1998, following a career at Genentech, where he served in both technical and management positions related to recombinant DNA protein production. 

Swartz is also a co-founder of Sutro Biopharma, which is developing cell-free protein pharmaceutical technology; GreenLight Biosciences, a cell-free metabolic engineering company; and Bullet Biotechnology, which is developing personalized cancer vaccines. He has been elected to membership in the National Academy of Engineering. Swartz was the 2008 recipient of SBE’s James E. Bailey Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Field of Biological Engineering.

About SBE:

Established in 2004, the Society for Biological Engineering is a technological community for engineers and applied scientists integrating biology with engineering. Members of SBE come from a broad spectrum of industries and disciplines and share in SBE’s mission of realizing the benefits of bioprocessing, biomedical and biomolecular applications.

About AIChE:

AIChE is a professional society of more than 40,000 chemical engineers in 92 countries. Its members work in corporations, universities and government using their knowledge of chemical processes to develop safe and useful products for the benefit of society. Through its varied programs, AIChE continues to be a focal point for information exchange on the frontier of chemical engineering research in such areas as nanotechnology, sustainability, hydrogen fuels, biological and environmental engineering, and chemical plant safety and security. More information about AIChE is available at