US Bioengineer Professor Frances Arnold becomes first woman to win $1.1 million technology prize

Friday 27th of May 2016

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Frances Arnold, the Dick and Barbara Dickinson Professor of Chemical Engineering, Bioengineering and Biochemistry, has been awarded the Millennium Technology Prize for her "directed evolution" method, which creates new and better proteins in the laboratory using principles of evolution.

The Millennium Technology Prize, worth one million euros (approximately $1.1 million), is the world's most prominent award for technological innovations that enhance the quality of people's lives.

With this she becomes first female to be awarded with this prestigious biennial award in its 12-year history.

The Technology Academy Finland (TAF) had chosen Frances Arnold for this award in recognition of her discoveries that launched the field of directed evolution. Her discoveries mimic natural evolution to create new and better proteins in the laboratory.

About her

Frances Hamilton Arnold is an internationally recognized scientist, engineer and innovator from US.

She had obtained her BS degree in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from Princeton University in 1979.

She had earned her PhD in Chemical Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley.

As a scientist she had pioneered methods of directed evolution to create useful biological systems including metabolic pathways, enzymes, genetic regulatory circuits and organisms.

Awards and Honours: Her scientific work has been recognized by many award including Draper Prize (2011) and National Medal of Technology and Innovation (2013).

About Millennium Technology Prize

The Millennium Technology Prize is one of the world’s largest technology awards. It seeks to promote technological research and Finland as a high-tech Nordic welfare state.

It was inaugurated in 2004 by Technology Academy Finland (TAF), an independent fund established in partnership of Finnish state and Finnish industry.

It is awarded biennially and the prize is presented by the President of Finland.

About Directed evolution

Directed evolution, first pioneered in the early 1990s, is a key factor in green technologies for a wide range of products, from biofuels to pharmaceuticals, agricultural chemicals, paper products, and more.

The technique enlists the help of nature's design process—evolution—to come up with better enzymes, which are molecules that catalyze, or facilitate, chemical reactions. In the same way that breeders mate cats or dogs to bring out desired traits, scientists use directed evolution to create desired enzymes.

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