This Pioneering Systems Biology Professor Received a €400K Prize from Novozymes

jens_nielsen_novozymes_chalmers_nordisk_novo_cell_factories

Jens Nielsen pioneered Systems Biology in Europe. His research efforts focus on transferring science research to industrial applications – to create a society independent of fossil fuels. He has now been awarded with the Novozymes Prize.

nielsen_jens_novozymes_chalmers_systems_synthetic_biologyNielsen, a professor at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg (Sweden), literally co-wrote the book on Metabolic Engineering back in 1998. During this period he started teaching at the Danish Technical University (DTU), around the same time that the field was emerging at MIT.

This would later evolve into Systems and Synthetic Biology, both now massive areas of research and innovationSystems Biology combines many different disciplines: mathematics, reaction and fermentation science, data integration and modern microbial genetics.

systems_biology_jens_nielsen_cell_factories_chalmers_novozymes

How Systems Biology is a blend of different disciplines (Credit: The Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle)

With such a comprehensive perspective, it aims to understand biological processes so well that they could be controlled and tinkered with in order to produce things society needs (drugs, materials, fuels) through Cell factories. So instead of being dependent on fossil fuels, we would be shifting towards a bioeconomy.

Nielsen has now received the Novozymes Prize (awarded by the NovoNordisk Foundation) for the cutting edge work done in his lab. Now at Chalmers (Sweden), the lab will study industrial applications of biology to create these cell factories.

According to Nielsen, the €400k (3M DKK) of funding (with no strings attached) will help finance ‘riskier projects‘ that could improve technology based on this Systems Biology research.

novonordisk_novozymes_novonordisk_foundation_jens_nielsen

Novo is the holding company for the Novo Group, which has ownership stakes in Novo Nordisk and Novozymes. In addition Novo manages the Novo Nordisk Foundation (Source: Novo Nordisk)

On top of his impressive academic record, Nielsen is no stranger to transferring academic research to the industry. He was a founder of Fluxome Sciences (now a part of Swiss Evolva), MycoTeQ (Denmark), MetaboGen (Sweden) and Biopetrolia (Sweden).

Nielsen is also CSO of the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability (DTU Biosustain). We wonder whether this isn’t a bit of conflict of interests, but Nielsen’s work is indisputably at the forefront of industrial biotechnology.

The Novozymes Prize is an example of huge recognition of Nielsen’s work, and the €400k awarded could help fuel the ride to a greener, more sustainable future. 


Interview with Nielsen on Fungal Cell Factories


Feature Image Credit: Jens Nielsen (Credit: Novo Nordisk Fonden)
Denise Neves Gameiro

Denise Neves Gameiro

Journalist intern. Studied Bioengineering in Porto and was a lab rat in Sweden. Enjoying Berlin and the company of LaBiotech's resident plants.

Previous post

Italy Bets on Agriculture and Invests €21M in Sustainable-Biotech

Next post

This Bone Cell Therapy Could Make it to a Shelf Near You

No Comment

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *