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Distinguished Professor and Dean from South Korea to Receive 2018 George Washington Carver Award

June 21, 2018

Washington, D.C. (June 21, 2018) – The Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) today announced that Distinguished Professor Sang Yup Lee at the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) will receive the 11th annual George Washington Carver Award for Innovation in Industrial Biotechnology. The award will be presented on Wednesday, July 18, 2018 during a plenary session at the 2018 BIO World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology. The world’s largest conference on industrial biotechnology and partnering event will be held July 16-19, 2018, at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia.

“I am very honored to receive this award,” said Dr. Lee, who also heads the multi and interdisciplinary research center at KAIST as dean. “The credit all goes to my research team who has worked together for the past few decades. Industrial biotechnology is becoming increasingly important to help achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. We should continue to work together to advance the field and establish a solid foundation for the sustainable future.”

“Dr. Sang Yup Lee has advanced the biobased economy by developing innovative products and processes that are sustainable and environmentally friendly,” said Brent Erickson, executive vice president of BIO’s Industrial & Environmental Section. ”In doing so, Dr. Lee has become a leader in advocating on the importance of industrial biotechnology through engagement with the public, policymakers and decision makers around the world. His contributions to the advancement of the industry are a continuation of the legacy left behind by George Washington Carver.”

The George Washington Carver Award is sponsored by the Iowa Biotechnology Association. Joe Hrdlicka, executive director of the Iowa Biotechnology Association, said: “Dr. Sang Yup Lee’s significant contributions to the advancement of industrial biotechnology make him the perfect recipient for the George Washington Carver Award. Having published more than 575 peer-reviewed papers, contributed to 82 books and holding 636 patents, the culmination of Dr. Lee’s work has led to the establishment of sustainable systems for bio-based production of chemicals, fuels and materials, thus reducing environmental impact and improving quality of life for all.”

Dr. Lee is a pioneer of systems metabolic engineering, leveraging the technology to develop microbial bioprocesses for the sustainable and environment-friendly production of chemicals, fuels and materials from non-food renewable biomass. Through his work, Dr. Lee has gained countless achievements, including being one of only 13 people in the world elected as a foreign member of both the National Academy of Sciences USA and the National Academy of Engineering USA.

Recognized as a great communicator, Dr. Lee has actively promoted the importance of industrial biotechnology through engagement with the public, policymakers and decision makers around the world. Dr. Lee currently serves as the co-chairman of the Global Future Council on Biotechnology for the World Economic Forum and served as the Chairman of the Emerging Technologies Council and Biotechnology Council for the World Economic Forum.

The annual Carver award recognizes an individual who has made a significant contribution to building the biobased economy by applying industrial biotechnology to create environmentally sustainable products. It serves as a lasting memorial to the original vision of George Washington Carver who, over a century ago, pioneered biobased products, materials and energy derived from renewable agricultural feedstock. Industrial biotechnology is the modern-day equivalent of Carver’s vision.

Dr. Sang Yup Lee becomes the 11th recipient honored with the award; past recipients include:

  • Jeff Broin, Founder, Chairman and CEO, POET in 2017;
  • Dr. J. Craig Venter, Co-Founder of Synthetic Genomics and Executive Chairman of Human Longevity in 2016;
  • Jonathan S. Wolfson, CEO of Solazyme in 2015;
  • Ellen Kullman, CEO & Chair of the Board, DuPont in 2014;
  • Dr. Jay Keasling, Hubbard Howe Jr., Distinguished Professor of Biochemical Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley in 2013;
  • Steen Riisgaard, president and CEO of Novozymes in 2012;
  • Feike Sijbesma, CEO of Royal DSM in 2011;
  • Gregory Stephanopoulos, the Willard Henry Dow Professor of Chemical Engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2010;
  • Charles O. Holliday, Jr., chairman of the board of DuPont in 2009;
  • Dr. Patrick Gruber, CEO of Gevo, Inc., in 2008.

All programs for the 2018 BIO World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology are open to members of the media. Complimentary media registration is available to editors and reporters working full time for print, broadcast or web publications with valid press credentials.

For more information on the conference, please visit For assistance, please contact

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