|Rensselaer Faculty Member Wins Prestigious Biotechnology Awards
Rensselaer had an impressive showing at the 234th American Chemical Society Meeting held in late August in Boston, Mass. Along with professor Jonathan S. Dordick winning a pair of major awards, nearly 60 faculty, researchers, and students presented papers and research findings on diverse topics ranging from proteomics to bioinformatics and the design of functional nanostructure materials.
At the event, attended by more than 13,500 scientists from around the world, Dordick, the Howard P. Isermann Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering and chairman of the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at Rensselaer, received the ACS’s prestigious Marvin J. Johnson Award in Microbial and Biochemical Technology. The award, given annually, is the ACS’s highest biotechnology honor and is designated for a researcher who has made a substantial impact over the continuum of his or her career.
The ACS said the award “recognizes many of Professor Dordick’s achievements leading to functional bioengineered materials, enzyme-based nanocomposites, and bioactive agents that impact human health and bioprocesses.” After accepting the award, which was sponsored by Pfizer Inc., Dordick presented the lecture “Molecular Bioprocessing: From Design to Discovery to Dreams.”
A little trivia: Dordick is the second Rensselaer researcher to win the Johnson Award. Henry Bungay, now a professor emeritus in the same department as Dordick, won the award in the early 1990s.
Dordick also received the ACS Biochemical Technology Division’s 2006 Elmer Gaden Award. The award, also presented at the Boston conference, recognized Dordick’s article “Controlled hierarchical assembly of switchable DNA-multiprotein complexes” as the top paper published in 2006 in the journal Biotechnology & Bioengineering. Dordick delivered a lecture on the paper, which was co-authored by Grazyna Sroga, a postdoctoral researcher who worked under Dordick and is now with associate professor Wilfredo Colón in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology. The 2006 Gaden Award was sponsored by Biotechnology & Bioengineering publisher John Wiley & Sons.
The paper described a new paradigm for which to exploit biological systems in order to control the molecular assembly of multiple biological and nonbiological architectures at nanoscale dimensions, Dordick said. When building biological assemblies based on the selective interaction of protein and DNA building blocks, researchers can pinpoint and help define a specific function of the material. This work allows researchers to use a specific design and in turn create a material with a specific function, such as a sensor, catalyst, or physical barrier.