2008 Lectureship Recipient

Gregory Stephanopoulos

Department of Chemical Engineering
Massachusetts Institute of Technology


"Chemical and Biological Engineering: A New Dimension To A Successful Paradigm"

Biological systems and processes owe their wonderful properties mostly to the (bio)chemical reactions occurring in them. Regulation of gene expression, cell-cell communication by signaling cascades, self-regulation and molecular recognition, metabolite overproduction by metabolic engineering, laboratory evolution of proteins, biocatalysis with single or multiple enzymes, cell-surface interactions for tissue engineering, controlled drug delivery, cell and tissue targeting for gene therapy, and many, many others, are all situations critically dependent upon the type and extent of chemical reactions occurring in them. As such, they can be, and, in fact, are being dissected and optimized using the tools of chemical engineering; namely, kinetics, thermodynamics and transport. This is a key contribution of chemical engineers in exploring the applied extensions of biology. This central role of chemical engineering in advancing applied biology must be formalized by enriching the ChE curriculum with contextual information about biological systems and their relationship to the underlying chemical reactions. As biology, at the molecular level, is mostly a chemical science, it should become a foundational science, along with chemistry, of a chemical and biological engineering paradigm to support an exciting new area of engineering education and research.