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Cell Factory Pioneer Awarded the Novozymes Prize

Professor Jens Nielsen is being awarded the Novozymes Prize 2016. The Prize is awarded in recognition of outstanding research or technology efforts that benefit the development of biotechnology science.

Jens Nielsen has been selected as the recipient of the 2016 Novozymes Prize.

Jens Nielsen is receiving the Prize for pioneering research in systems biology and for groundbreaking interdisciplinary efforts to characterize and modify the metabolism of microorganisms with the aim of making them produce chemicals so cost-effectively that the methods can be used in industry as an alternative to the oil-based chemical industry.

Jens Nielsen is a professor at Chalmers University of Technology in Göteborg, Sweden and Chief Scientific Officer of the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability in Hørsholm, Denmark. He has been on the forefront of the rapid development of systems biology during the past two decades. This has spanned from biosynthesis with one gene implanted in a microorganism that produces a single protein to today’s cell factories, which produce chemical compounds and enzymes based on implanting up to 40 genes in the cells of such microorganisms as yeast and fungi. This new, sustainable technology is on the verge of making an industrial breakthrough.

“The industrial use of cell factories can result in a society based on renewable resources and independent of fossil fuels. Cell factories can also deliver a range of new products that benefit society such as antibiotics and new materials,” says Jens Nielsen.

Jens Nielsen will receive DKK 3 million to accompany the Prize. DKK 2.5 million will be allocated to his research, and he will receive a personal award of DKK 0.5 million.

“Receiving the Novozymes Prize is a really fantastic honour. I have always especially focused on understanding and modifying metabolism so that industry can apply this knowledge. Having unrestricted funds for riskier projects that can enable the new knowledge that is necessary to improve the technology is an enormous boost,” says Jens Nielsen.

Søren Molin, chair of the Novozymes Prize Committee, says: “Jens Nielsen is receiving the 2016 Novozymes Prize for his outstanding efforts over many years in developing systems biology. Jens Nielsen has unique knowledge of the most important aspects of the new systems biology – mathematics, reaction and fermentation science, data integration and modern microbial genetics. He has been able to combine and use this knowledge creatively and intuitively to contribute massively to the basic understanding of the physiology of microorganisms and how this is regulated.”

Jens Nielsen will formally receive the Novozymes Prize on 15 March 2016.

Read more about the Prize here.


Born: 1962

Professor; Director, Chalmers Life Science Engineering Area of Advance; and Director, Division of Systems and Synthetic Biology, Chalmers University of Technology, Göteborg, Sweden; and Chief Scientific Officer, Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability, Technical University of Denmark, Hørsholm, Denmark.


Jens Nielsen, Professor, Chalmers University of Technology, [email protected], tel. +46 31 772 3804

Søren Molin, Professor, Technical University of Denmark, Chair of the Novozymes Prize Committee, [email protected], mobile: +45 2031 8210

Christian Mostrup Scheel, Press Officer, Novo Nordisk Foundation, [email protected], mobile: +45 3067 4805