Jay Keasling, a leading authority and pioneer on synthetic biology who has engineered microbial "factories" to manufacture an affordable version of a frontline antimalarial drug and biofuel substitutes for gasoline, diesel and jet fuel, has won a 2012 Heinz Award, which is presented by the Heinz Family Foundation and carries with it a cash prize of $250,000.
Among his multiple titles, Keasling is the Associate Laboratory Director for Biosciences at the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), CEO for DOE's Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI), the Hubbard Howe Jr. Distinguished Professor of Biochemical Engineering at the University of California (UC) Berkeley, and director of the Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center (SynBERC).
"Dr. Keasling is a pioneer in a field few people even know exists but that has profound implications for the future of medicine, chemistry and energy, and for the future of our planet," said Teresa Heinz, who chairs the Heinz Family Foundation, in announcing the award. "Dr. Keasling's research is revealing how we can use natural systems to produce cheaper, more environmentally-friendly compounds for everything from anti-malarial drugs to biofuels. His work, and the deep human compassion that drives it, is proof that we really can invent our way to a more sustainable future."
This year marks the 18th annual presentation of the Heinz Awards which are intended to honor outstanding individuals who have made significant contributions in five areas: Arts and Humanities; Environment; Human Condition; Public Policy; and Technology, the Economy and Employment. The awards were established by Teresa Heinz in 1993 to honor the memory of her late husband, U.S. Senator John Heinz. In addition to the monetary award, recipients are presented with a medallion. The 2012 Heinz Awards will be presented at a ceremony in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on October 11.
|Contact: Lynn Yarris|
DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory