Two of the world’s foremost names within research on industrial biotechnology are now coming to Denmark. On 1 January 2013, Sang Yup Lee, Professor at KAIST (Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology), Daejeon, South Korea, and Jay Keasling, Professor at the University of California at Berkeley, USA, will join the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability, where each will establish a research group.
Bringing Sang Yup Lee and Jay Keasling to Denmark accounts for much of the new grant of DKK 131.25 million from the Novo Nordisk Foundation. This is intended to further internationalize the Center, which opened at the Technical University of Denmark in 2011.
The expansion means that the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability will enter into a strategic partnership with KAIST and the University of California at Berkeley, which are leaders within research on industrial biotechnology. These alliances will give the Center access to specialized knowledge and will reinforce the Center’s efforts to become a global leader in this field.
Bernhard Palsson, Professor and CEO of the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability, says: “Being part of a network is increasingly crucial to becoming a leading actor in this field. The goal of the Center is to become a world-class research centre with a global reach, so we are very happy that Sang Yup Lee and Jay D. Keasling are joining the Center as scientific directors. This will internationalize the Center and link it to the world’s best research institutions within the design of cell factories. They will help to develop the drive required to become a top global research centre.”
Focus on global challenges
The Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability carries out research on designing, constructing and optimizing cell factories (bacteria, yeast and cell culture) for producing chemical compounds. The World Economic Forum assesses this as being one of the fields with the greatest potential to solve some of the most pressing current global problems.
Plastic bags, toys and fuel are a few of many products that are widely manufactured from chemical compounds based on oil or extracted from plants. Nevertheless, this production depletes natural resources and increases carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. A goal is to manufacture these and many other products biotechnologically using cell factories in the future.
The arrival of Sang Yup Lee and Jay Keasling will expand the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability from 8 to 10 sections. The new sections will be called 1) Synthetic Biology Toolkit for Yeast and 2) Discovery of New Bioactive Compounds and Development of Production Hosts. In addition, the Center will add three new key research activities: 1) using CO2 as a source of carbon for producing useful materials through electrosynthesized cell factories; 2) global econometric modelling of the industry; and 3) developing software for designing and disseminating the cell factories. This will reduce both the time and cost of developing new variants of cell factories.
Equally important, the expansion will provide young researchers in Denmark with an opportunity to improve their skills in an environment with some of the absolute top global researchers, which will boost research in Denmark in the future.
Ulf J. Johansson, Chair of the Board of the Novo Nordisk Foundation, says: “The aim is to create a first-class research centre with a management team of leading researchers who can inspire and improve the skills of future generations of researchers. Our ambition is to make Denmark a leading global centre for research in industrial biotechnology.”
The new grant means that the Novo Nordisk Foundation has awarded more than DKK 1.1 billion (€148 million) to the Center, including DKK 700 million (€94 million) for establishing the Center in 2010 and a second grant of DKK 280 million (€38 million) awarded in May 2012 for expanding the Center’s activities.
Bernhard Palsson, CEO, Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability, firstname.lastname@example.org
Christian Mostrup Scheel, Press Officer, Novo Nordisk Foundation, Tel. +45 3067 4805, email@example.com
About the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability
The Center focuses on developing new knowledge and technology that can support the transformation from a petrochemical industry to a more sustainable bio-based industry, in which chemicals are produced biotechnologically by specially designed microorganisms (microbial production hosts) – cell factories. The Center is carrying out research on developing and designing cell factories based on bacteria, yeast and mammalian CHO (Chinese hamster ovary) cell lines.
This latest expansion means that the Center expect to have more than 200 employees by the end of 2013. Bernhard Palsson, the CEO of the Center, has received numerous awards during his research career and came to the Center from the University of California at San Diego, USA. Read more at: www.biosustain.dtu.dk.