BIO Presents MIT Professor Gregory Stephanopoulos the 2010 George Washington Carver Award for Innovation in Industrial Biotechnology

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Tuesday, June 29, 2010) - The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) today presented the annual George Washington Carver Award for Innovation in Industrial Biotechnology to Gregory Stephanopoulos, the Willard Henry Dow Professor of Chemical Engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, recognizing his pioneering work in the field of industrial biotechnology and in particular metabolic engineering and its practical application to industrial processes. The award was presented at a plenary session during the 2010 World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioprocessing, in Washington, D.C. 

Brent Erickson, executive vice president of BIO’s Industrial & Environmental Section, said, “The George Washington Carver Award was created to honor individuals in academia, government and the private sector who have made a significant contribution to industrial biotechnology innovation as the core technology for the utilization of renewable resources and advancement of biobased value chains. No one exemplifies this better than Professor Gregory Stephanopoulos, and BIO is pleased to recognize his contributions to the field of industrial biotechnology.”

Stephanopoulos is a pioneer in the field of metabolic engineering and co-author of the seminal textbook that laid the educational and engineering foundations of this new field. He has also actively transferred laboratory developed technologies to important industrial processes, co-founding start-up companies to produce antimicrobial peptides and biofuels. He has developed processes integrating highly engineered microbes in industrial settings to produce amino acids, such as lysine and isoleucine; indandiol, an essential precursor of the AIDS drug Crixivan; and important diterpenes, such as lycopene and taxadiene, a precursor to the cancer drug taxol. His current work focuses on engineering a microbe for cost-effective production of oil and biodiesel.

Stephanopoulos said, “I am truly honored to receive the George Washington Carver Award. Our work has emphasized the importance of engineering microbes not for the production of token amounts of bioproducts, but for the cost effective conversion of renewable resources to useful bioproducts and biofuels. This is the essence of a biobased economy and it is for this reason that this award is particularly important to me, representing the industries that epitomize this bio-based economy. Manufacturing from renewable resources will grow steadily as more processes are developed, and since it cannot be done offshore its contribution to the national welfare will also increase. This suggests a bright future for industrial biotechnology and the technologies that enable it, such as metabolic engineering.”

Accompanying the award is a George Washington Carver scholarship given to an Iowa State University graduate student studying the field of industrial biotechnology. The 2010 award is sponsored by the Iowa Biotechnology Association.

Erickson continued, “George Washington Carver is considered one of the founding fathers of modern industrial biotechnology. Following his legacy, industrial biotechnology companies today are developing new methods to use renewable agricultural resources to manufacture fuels, plastics, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and food ingredients. 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 agricultural economy that includes production of useful everyday products.”

Past winners of the award include Dr. Patrick Gruber, CEO of Gevo, Inc., in 2008 and Charles O. Holliday, Jr., chairman of the board of DuPont in 2009.

For photos of the award or presentation, please contact Paul Winters at 202-962-9237 or

The annual World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioprocessing – co-organized by BIO, BIOTECanada, and the U.S. Department of Energy – is the original and only conference dedicated solely to industrial biotechnology and the most recent advancements in the field. Visit

Upcoming BIO Events

BIO India
September 21 - 22, 2010
Hyderabad, India

BIO’s Livestock Biotechnology Summit
September 28-30, 2010,
Sioux Falls, SD

BIO Investor Forum
October 5-6, 2010
San Francisco, CA

BIO Intellectual Property Counsels Committee Fall Conference and Committee Meeting
October 18-20, 2010
Boston, MA


 About BIO

BIO represents more than 1,200 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations across the United States and in more than 30 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of innovative healthcare, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products. BIO also produces the BIO International Convention, the world’s largest gathering of the biotechnology industry, along with industry-leading investor and partnering meetings held around the world.