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Jay Keasling Wins BIO's George Washington Carver Award

April 18, 2013
BIO announced today that it will honor Jay Keasling, a professor of biochemical engineering at University of California, Berkley; associate laboratory director at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; CEO of the Joint BioEnergy Institute; and Director of Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center, as the recipient of its 2013 George Washington Carver Award for innovation in industrial biotechnology.

The award honors the vision of Carver, an originator of the “chemurgy” movement who, more than a century ago, achieved world renown by combining agriculture and science to produce everyday biobased products, changing the nature of farm economics and sustainability. Industrial biotechnology is the modern-day equivalent, combining biotech innovations with renewable biomass to create solutions that can revitalize manufacturing and energy.

“I am honored to receive the 2013 George Washington Carver Award for contributing to research and commercialization of synthetic biology,” Keasling said. “I truly believe that through synthetic biology all petroleum-based products can be produced from sugar-based microbes resulting in cleaner processes and slowing global warming.”

A panel selected Keasling for his contributions to the field of synthetic biology promoting the use of engineering microbes to produce biofuels, medicines and even cosmetic compounds from simple ingredients like sugar cane and grasses. Using synthetic biology, Keasling is developing processes that replace petroleum-based products consumers use every day from hard plastics and paints to soda bottles, cosmetics and car tires.

"The field has developed in ways that Carver may never have imagined, but the work of industrial biotech companies remains true to the goal of a sustainable bio-economy," said Brent Erickson, executive vice president for BIO’s Industrial & Environmental Section. “BIO is pleased to honor Keasling for his break-through work in synthetic biology. ”

Keasling will receive the award and deliver a keynote address during a June 18 plenary lunch session at BIO’s 10th Annual World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology. The conference is being held at the Palais des congrès de Montréal.