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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Jay Keasling Receives Inaugural Biotech Humanitarian Award

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BIO Honors Pioneer in Synthetic Biology Transforming Treatment of Malaria, Approach to Biofuels - Panel of judges cites work as potential turning point for therapeutic and industrial applications

For Immediate Release


Contact Jeff Joseph


Washington, DC and Atlanta, GA (Wednesday, May 20, 2009) - The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) announced that Jay Keasling, CEO of the Joint BioEnergy Institute, Professor of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering at the University of California at Berkley and acting Deputy Director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, has been selected as the honoree for the first annual Biotech Humanitarian Award.

Dr. Keasling was selected not only for his professional accomplishments to date, but also for the promise and potential that his research holds. Currently, Dr. Keasling is working on a synthetic biology technique that, at commercial scale, will diversify the supply of artemisinin, the key component in artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs), the WHO-recommended first-line treatment for malaria. This breakthrough is expected to reduce the cost of artemisinin and enable millions of people infected with malaria to gain access to lower-cost, life-saving ACTs. The synthetic biology technology behind this breakthrough can also be used to help produce the next generation of biofuels.

“Dr. Keasling embodies the high standard we have set for the Biotech Humanitarian Award. He has led the development of breakthrough science that will greatly help reduce human suffering,” said Jim Greenwood, president and CEO of BIO. “Dr. Keasling’s work has the potential to save the lives of millions of people in the developing world who suffer from malaria, and also to address the global need for clean, renewable energy. We are thrilled to honor his work and present him as our inaugural Biotech Humanitarian honoree.”

Dr. Keasling was presented the Award during a keynote luncheon held at the 2009 BIO International Convention in Atlanta, GA. He was presented with a $10,000 award to help support his work.

Currently, artemisinin is extracted solely from plants and its derivatives manufactured entirely through costly chemical synthesis, both expensive and timely processes. Dr. Keasling applies a synthetic biology technique to dramatically reduce the production time and cost of artemisinin for ACTs.

“It is an honor to receive this recognition as biotech's collective efforts hold a tremendous potential for addressing the world's toughest challenges in new ways,” said 2009 Biotech Humanitarian Dr. Jay Keasling. “It took incredible team effort to do the science that resulted in an affordable malaria therapy, and we will continue to work to bring this therapy online, while also pushing the boundaries of biofuels to reduce our need for fossil fuels.”

Dr. Keasling was selected the honoree by a distinguished panel of judges who evaluated nominations based on four criteria:

  • Impact on contemporary society
  • Impact on future generations
  • Contribution to the field of biotechnology
  • Level of innovation exhibited

BIO established the Biotech Humanitarian Award to recognize everyday heroes within the biotechnology community who have helped heal, fuel and feed the planet through their work in biotech.

“Dr. Keasling’s work embodies all the principles of a biotech humanitarian and represents a paradigm shifting discovery, focused on fundamentally changing how we treat disease in the developing world. The translational nature of Dr. Keasling’s discovery and application holds enormous potential for the medical, industrial and agricultural fields of biotech,” said Dr. Joshua Boger, Immediate Past Chairman of BIO’s Board of Directors and CEO of Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated. “Dr. Keasling is a true biotech humanitarian as he has chosen to use his career to impact global health and direct the potential of biotech to improve humanity. I thank him for his hard work, and I am honored to present him with the inaugural Biotech Humanitarian Award.”

“I would like to thank our impressive panel of judges for their time spent reviewing applications and selecting such a fine recipient for our inaugural Award,” added Greenwood.

The judging panel for the 2009 Biotech Humanitarian Award consisted of leaders in science, policy, business and philanthropy:

  • Dr. David Agus – Professor of Medicine, Director, Center for Applied Molecular Medicine and Westside Cancer Center, University of Southern California
  • Dr. Anna Barker – Deputy Director, National Cancer Institute and Deputy Director for Strategic Scientific Initiatives
  • Dr. Joshua Boger – Founder and CEO, Vertex Pharmaceuticals
  • Jim Greenwood – President and CEO, BIO
  • Dr. Jessie Gruman – President, Center for Advancing Health
  • Phil Hills – Executive Vice President, Lance Armstrong Foundation
  • Katie Hood – CEO, The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research
  • Catherine Ivy –Founder and Board President, the Ben and Catherine Ivy Foundation
  • Dr. Evelyn Lewis – Executive Medical Director, Uniformed Services University Center for Health Disparities Education and Research
  • James C. Mullen - President and CEO, Biogen Idec
  • Richard Pops – Chairman, Board of Directors, Alkermes

To stay informed about the Biotech Humanitarian Award visit:

Upcoming BIO Events

BIO Human Resources Conference
May 17-19, 2009
Atlanta, GA

2009 BIO International Convention
May 18-21, 2009
Atlanta, Ga.

BioEquity Europe
June 9-10, 2009
Munich, Germany

World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology & Bioprocessing
July 19-22, 2009
Montreal, Quebec, Canada


About 2009 BIO International Convention

The world’s leading biotechnology industry event, the BIO International Convention, is taking place May 18-21, 2009, at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta.  The BIO International Convention is the largest global event for the biotechnology industry and attracts the biggest names in biotech, offers key networking and partnering opportunities, and provides insights and inspiration on the major trends affecting the biotech industry.  The annual event draws industry leaders from 48 states and 60 countries.

The BIO International Convention helps to support BIO programs and initiatives.  BIO works throughout the year to create a policy environment that enables the industry to continue to fulfill its vision of bettering the world through biotechnology innovation.  For more information on the global event for biotechnology, including program and housing information, please visit  


About BIO

BIO represents more than 1,200 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations across the United States and in more than 30 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of innovative healthcare, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products. BIO also produces the BIO International Convention, the world’s largest gathering of the biotechnology industry, along with industry-leading investor and partnering meetings held around the world.



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