BIO is pleased to announce that Dr. Jay Keasling has been named as the 2013 recipient of the George Washington Carver Award.
Jay Keasling was raised on a corn farm in Harvard, Nebraska, a town of less than 1,000 people. Dr. Keasling attended the University of Nebraska, Lincoln (1982-1986), where he received a BS in chemistry and biology. From there, he attended the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where he received his MS (1988) and PhD (1991) in Chemical Engineering. After a one-year post-doctoral stint in the Department of Biochemistry at Stanford University Medical School, Dr. Keasling joined the faculty of Chemical Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, where is he currently a full professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering and the Department of Bioengineering. Dr. Keasling is also a Senior Faculty Scientist in the Physical Biosciences Division and Acting Deputy Director at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Dr. Keasling serves as the Director of the National Science Foundation-funded Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center (SynBERC), and Chief Executive Officer of the US Department of Energy-funded Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI).
Dr. Keasling was an early pioneer in synthetic biology and its application to redesigning microorganisms for production of complex chemicals and for degradation of toxic, environmental contaminants. Dr. Keasling’s laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley developed many early tools for manipulating the metabolism of microorganisms and then used these tools to develop microbial production processes for specialty chemicals, drugs, and biodegradable plastics and for degradation of nerve agents and pesticides. More recently, Dr. Keasling’s laboratory engineered both Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Escherichia coli to produce a readily-convertible precursor to the effective, anti-malarial drug artemisinin, work that has been funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Dr. Keasling developed a model, three-way partnership among his laboratory, a synthetic biology company, and a non-profit pharmaceutical company to ensure that the drug is delivered to people in the Developing World. After completing the work on artemisinin biosynthesis, Dr. Keasling turned his attention to engineering microorganisms to produce biofuels, work that is funded by the DOE-funded Joint BioEnergy Institute. Dr. Keasling’s hydrocarbon-producing microorganisms will serve as a platform for producing next-generation biofuels.
Dr. Keasling has published over 300 refereed journal articles, conference proceedings, and book chapters. He has 22 granted patents and over 30 patents pending. He has given over 300 invited lectures and has submitted over 250 abstracts at national and international scientific conferences. Dr. Keasling has won numerous awards, including being elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2010, the 2012 Heinz Prize for Technology, Economy, and Employment, the inaugural Biotech Humanitarian Award from the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) in 2009, the 2007 Professional Progress Award from the American Institute for Chemical Engineers, the first ever Scientist of the Year award from Discover Magazine in 2006, the Technology Pioneer award from the World Economic Forum in 2005, the 1999 AIChE Award for Chemical Engineering Excellence in Academic Teaching from the Northern California Section of the American Institute for Chemical Engineers, a Chevron Young Faculty Fellowship in 1995, a CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation in 1995, and the 1992 Zeneca Young Faculty Fellowship. Dr. Keasling has given numerous award lectureships, including the 2007 Eastman Lectureship in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Georgia Tech University, the Seventh Annual Frontiers of Biotechnology Lectureship in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2005), the 2005 Blue-Green Lectureship in theDepartment of Chemical Engineering at the University of Michigan & the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Sciences at Michigan State University, the Inaugural Schwartz Lectureship in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Johns Hopkins University (2003), and the 2002 Allan P. Colburn Memorial Lectureship in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Delaware. Dr. Keasling was elected Fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering in 2000 and Fellow of the American Academy for Microbiology in 2007.
The George Washington Carver Award honors the original vision of George Washington Carver who, over a century ago, achieved world renown by using agriculture and science to produce everyday products, changing the nature of farm economics and sustainability. To learn more about George Washington Carver and the past winners of the award click here.
Past recipients include:
2012: Steen Riisgaard, Novozymes
2011: Feike Sijbesma, DSM
2010: Greg Stephanopoulos, MIT
2009: Charles Holliday, Jr., DuPont
2008: Patrick Gruber, Gevo