Belfort Group

Biomolecular Separations Research Group
Howard P. Isermann Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering
and Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Troy, NY 12180, USA

Georges Belfort

Institute Professor
Howard P. Isermann Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering
and Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Troy, NY 12180-3590
PHONE: (518) 276-6948
FAX: (518) 276-4030


Ph.D., Engineering, University of California at Irvine, Irvine, California, 1972
MS., Engineering, University of California at Irvine, Irvine, California, 1969
B.Sc., Chemical Engineering, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa, 1963

Background and Accomplishments

A native of South Africa, Professor Belfort joined the Rensselaer faculty in 1978 after a one-year sabbatical leave at Northwestern University and spending four years on the faculty of the School of Applied Science, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel. Dr. Belfort received his Ph.D. degree in 1972 and his M.S. degree in 1969 from the University of California at Irvine in engineering, and his B.Sc. (Chemical Engineering) in 1963 from the University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa. Prior to joining Rensselaer in 1978, he held the post of senior lecturer at the School of Applied Science, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel from 1973 to 1977. Dr. Belfort has spent part or all of his (sabbatical) leaves at Cape Town University (1972), Northwestern University (1977-78), Yale University (1988), MIT (1988) Caltech (1988) UC Berkeley (1996) MIT (2006) and MIT (2013). He has broad research interests include biomolecular separations (filtration, biofuels, leveraging rDNA with inteins), interfacial science (proteins at interfaces, high throughput surface modification), mass transfer and fluid mechanics, protein misfolding (amyloid aggregation) and kinetics, single molecule force spectroscopy, nature inspired separation (nuclear pore complex).

He received the 1995 ACS Award in Separation Science and Technology, the 2000 AIChE Clarence Gerhold Award in Separations Science and Technology, served as President of the North American Membrane Society (1995-196), was elected to the US National Academy of Engineering in 2003, and serves on the editorial boards of four journals. He was elected a fellow of the American Institute for Medical & Biological Engineering in 1994. He chaired the 1997 Gordon Research Conference on "Membranes: Materials and Processes". Dr. Belfort has delivered plenary or main lectures at many international meetings and forums and has been an invited lecturer at several industrial (Novo Nordisk, Denmark, DSM, The Netherlands, Merck, West Point, PA) and academic ("Professore a Contrare" at the University of Bologna, Italy) short courses on membranes for biotechnology and separations engineering. He delivered an invited lecture as part of the "Warren McCabe Lecture Series" at North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC in 1988. He has received the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science Fellowship twice to lecture in Japan in 1981 and 1996. Dr. Belfort was a guest of the Soviet Academy of Science (1991) (one of the last!), the Finnish Academy (1994) and the Chemistry Section of the Swedish Academy (1995).

He has received awards in the USA on Separations (ACS (1995) and AIChE (2000)), the ACS Murphree Award in Industrial and Engineering Chemistry (2008) and the Alan S. Michaels Award “Recovery of Biological Molecules” ACS BIOT Div. Award, Anaheim, CA (2011), and is one of the "100 Chemical Engineers of the Modern Era" as part of the AIChE Centennial Celebration in 2008. He was elected a member of the US National Academy of Engineering, February 2003, appointed Member of the Scientific Advisory Board, Max Planck Institute for Dynamic Complex Technical Systems, Magdeburg, Germany, April 2011, and inducted as Foreign Corresponding Member of the Academy of Sciences of Bologna Institute, Class of Physical Sciences, Section of Technical Sciences, March 2012.

Professor Belfort is an active consultant to industry in the USA, Europe and Japan on membrane technology and bioseparations. He teachers industrial short courses on "Synthetic Membranes and Biotechnology" with Andrew Zydney, University of Delaware. His students have won the prestigious NATO Fellowship (Dr. Jeffrey Schonberg) and the Presidential Young Award (Professors Cheng Sheng Lee and Carole Heath). He has edited two texts, published over 205 peer-reviewed papers and 22 chapters in various monographs related to fundamental and applied aspects of synthetic membrane technology and has recently been issued seven US patents (exclusive rights for one patent was purchased by Millipore Corp, Bedford, MA). He lectures widely in both academic and industrial settings, and is an active consultant in the United States, Europe, and Japan.

Georges Belfort is one of the premier academic scientists/engineers in the field of bioseparations engineering and is a leading academic chemical engineer in liquid-phase pressure-driven membrane-based processes. He has made seminal wide-ranging fundamental and applied research contributions to the understanding, design and application of pressure-driven membrane processes for the recovery of biological molecules. His research, both fundamental and developmental, is conducted in the areas of membrane-separations engineering and surface science and the behavior of proteins at interfaces. In particular, the research involves design of new membrane modules with highly efficient mass-transfer characteristics, modification of membrane surfaces for reduced fouling, and use of genetic engineering as a tool in the separation of biological molecules. Direct measurements are also made of intermolecular forces between proteins and polymeric films for application in separations and marine fouling. Recent interest has focused on the effect of solid substrates on the conformation of proteins, the development of a new molecular two-dimensional imprinting technique, the use of helical hollow fiber membranes to fractionate foreign immunoglobulins from transgenic goat milk, and the modification new polymeric surfaces for synthetic membranes using photo-induced polymerization that exhibit low attraction to proteins (biotechnology applications) and natural organic matter (environmental applications).

Dr Belfort collaborates with scientists and engineers including Dr. Marlene Belfort (geneticist, UAlbany, Albany, NY), Dr. Brian Chait, (physicist, Rockefeller University, NY City, NY), Dr. Payal Das (symulations expert, Thomas J. Watson Research Center, Yorktown Heights, NY), Dr. Shekhar Garde (molecular modeler, RPI), Dr. John Katsaras (senior scientist, Oak Ridge National Laboratory), Dr. Chip Kilduff, (environmental engineer, RPI), Dr. Jan Kmetko (physicist, Kenyon College), Dr. Nikhil Koratkar (mechanical engineer, RPI), Dr. Sanat Kumar (polymer physicist, Columbia University), Dr. Robert Langer (biochemical engineer, MIT, Cambridge, MA), Dr. Igor Lednev (chemist, UAlbany), Dr. Scott Manalis (biomechanical engineer, MIT), Dr. Li Niu (biochemist, UAlbany), Dr. Michael Rout (molecular biologist, Rockefeller University), Dr. Sally Temple (neurobiologist, Albany Medical Center), Dr. Jianjun Wang (Biochemist, Wayne State University), Dr. K. Dane Wittrup (chemical engineer, MIT), Dr. Yubing Xie (chemical engineer, School for Nanoscience and Nanoengineering, Albany, NY), Dr. Y. Elaine Zhu (chemical engineer, University of Notre Dame). Read More

Professional Experience

2011 to date Institute (Endowed) Professor
2003 to 2011 Russell Sage Professor (Endowed Chair) of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Howard P. Isermann Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, RPI.
1982 to 2002 Professor of Chemical Engineering, Howard P. Isermann Department of Chemical Engineering, RPI
1978 to 1982 Associate Professor, Chemical Engineering and Environmental Engineering, RPI
1973 to 1977 Senior Lecturer (approximate U.S. equivalent Associate Professor), Human Environmental Health Sciences, School of Applied Science & Technol., Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel.
1971 to 1972 Acting Instructor, University of California at Irvine., Irvine, California.
1964 to 1970 Research Chemical Engineer, Astropower Laboratory, McDonnell Douglas Corp.,Newport Beach, CA

International consultant to the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries (USA, Europe and Japan). IP expert witness on membrane filtration.

Belfort CV