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UCLA's Yi Tang receives Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award from EPA
Date:6/19/2012

Yi Tang, a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science and a professor of chemistry and biochemistry in the UCLA Division of Physical Sciences, has been awarded the prestigious 2012 Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The annual award recognizes pioneering chemical technologies developed by leading researchers and industrial innovators who are making significant contributions to pollution prevention in the U.S. including the design of safer and more sustainable chemicals, processes and products that will protect citizens from exposure to harmful materials.

Tang's winning technology resulted in a new, less-hazardous manufacturing process for simvastatin, a leading cholesterol-lowering statin drug.

"Yi's innovative research in the area of natural product biosynthesis and biocatalysis will not only lead to significant improvements in health care and medicine but will also lead to a safer and healthier global environment," said Vijay K. Dhir, dean of UCLA Engineering. "We are proud of the recognition and the important contributions he continues to make."

In 2006, simvastatin, originally developed by Merck, was the second-largest selling statin in the world, bringing in approximately $5 billion in sales. Today, it is the most frequently prescribed statin, with more than 94 million prescriptions filled in 2010, according to industry tracker IMS Health.

Though the drug is manufactured from a natural product, the traditional synthesis was a wasteful, multi-step chemical process that used large amounts of hazardous reagents.

Tang conceived of a synthesis that instead used an engineered enzyme and a practical, low-cost feedstock. He partnered with Codexis Inc. a developer of industrial enzymes that enable the cost-advantaged production of biofuels, bio-based chemicals and pharmac
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Contact: Wileen Wong Kromhout
wwkromhout@support.ucla.edu
310-206-0540
University of California - Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert

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