The Novozymes Award 2019 goes to James C. Liao

Novozymes honors Professor James C. Liao for his contributions to science that can help develop fuels and chemicals from renewable resources


As the global population grows with an increased pressure on the planet’s resources, Novozymes awards professor James C. Liao, President of Academia Sinica, Taiwan.

”We are awarding James C. Liao for his original and fundamental breakthroughs in microbial synthesis of fuels and chemicals from renewable resources,” says Jens Nielsen, professor at The Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability and CEO at BioInnovation Institute in Denmark.

Jens Nielsen chairs the committee that selects the winner on behalf of Novozymes. With the Novozymes Award for Chemical and Biochemical Engineering follows 100.000 Danish kroner (15,000 USD).

“Professor James C. Liao has, through numerous studies, demonstrated how he can use fundamental chemical engineering principles to design strategies for rewiring the metabolism of microorganisms, such that they have can convert renewable feedstocks into valuable chemicals with an improved conversion yield,” Jens Nielsen says.

Chemical engineering for a sustainable future

Microbiological synthesis is about forming complex substances from simpler compounds, e.g. where organic waste materials like straw and household waste can be used as raw materials to produce biofuels or bioplastics. In his work, James C. Liao uses gene technologies to engineer the metabolism of the microorganism.

“Novozymes is based in innovation, and our biological solutions enables higher agricultural yields, low-temperature washing, energy-efficient production, renewable fuel and many other benefits that we rely on today and in the future”, says Claus Crone Fuglsang, Chief Science Officer at Novozymes.

“The world still needs new solutions for a sustainable future, and James C. Liaos’ work helps us understand nature better and use biology to do exactly this.”

In 2018, Novozymes’ customers saved an estimated 88 million tons of CO2 emissions by applying Novozymes’ products. The savings achieved are equivalent to taking approximately 37 million cars  off the road.


James C. Liao will receive the award at a ceremony where Peder Holk Nielsen, CEO at Novozymes, will hand the prize to the winner. Ceremony will take place December 3, 1 p.m., at Novozymes’ Innovation Campus in Lyngby, north of Copenhagen.

The prize has been awarded since 2015 and is given annually in honor of Professor John Villadsen and his contributions to biochemical and chemical engineering at DTU and other universities around the world.


Novozymes, press release, 2019-12-01.


Academia Sinica
BioInnovation Institute


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