BIO presents 2022 Impact Awards for leaders and innovators in biotech

The Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) celebrated cutting-edge innovation and leadership in biotechnology last week with its announcement of the BIO Impact Awards for 2022.

BIO presented two Impact awards:

  • The Rosalind Franklin Award goes to a trailblazing woman who is driving current advancements in food systems, agriculture, sustainable energy, and bio-based manufacturing.
  • The George Washington Carver Award honors those who have effectively collaborated in the corporate sector, government, or a university to push biotech innovation to make supply chains more environmentally friendly.

Using synbio helps endangered shark species

The winner of the Rosalind Franklin award is Dr. Annie Tsong, Chief Strategy and Product Officer at Amyris, where she helps oversee the development of biotech-based substitute ingredients derived from scarce or vulnerable natural resources.

In order to create sustainable squalene, a copy of the squalene that is naturally produced by humans (and sharks) and is used as a skin moisturizer, Amyris employs synthetic biology (synbio) to genetically engineer yeast and ferment it with sugarcane, as Bio.News reported earlier. The company sources squalene sustainably—without resorting to the traditional source, shark livers, including the livers of endangered species.

“At Amyris, we use biotechnology to make an abundance of what is finite in this world – critical molecules, essential ingredients, and clean effective products for everyday use,” Dr. Tsong says.

Dr. Tsong noted the achievements of Rosalind Franklin, for whom the award is named. Franklin’s work in mapping the molecular structure of DNA in the 1950s, is essential to the advancements made by Amyris today, Dr. Tsong said.

She said receiving the Rosalind Franklin Award places her in an elite company with notable female pioneers in industrial biotechnology.

Making biopesticides that are better for the environment

The George Washington Carver Award winner is Dr. Robert Kennedy, Chief Scientific Officer at Vestaron, an agricultural company that has found a way to turn peptides into insecticides.

There have been occasional, fruitless attempts over the past 20 years to create peptides for use as pesticides. Dr. Kennedy’s leadership has helped Vestaron researchers overcome obstacles related to cost, regulation, and delivery to create cutting-edge novel biopesticides.

“At Vestaron we harness the power of peptides to lead the revolution in crop protection. We provide growers with the novel technologies to overcome resistance issues while being safe for the environment and workers,” Dr. Kennedy said.

Kennedy said the efforts of renowned agricultural scientist George Washington Carver, whose many innovations included methods to enhance and protect soils via crop rotation, are embodied in the work Vestaron does today.

The Iowa Biotechnology Association (IowaBio) sponsors the George Washington Carver Award.

Learn more about Dr. Tsong and Dr. Kennedy and the 2022 Impact Awards.

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