Success Story

August 3, 2018

2018 Young Investigator Award

CBC affiliate, Michael Jewett, NU, wins the 2018 Young Investigator Award

CBC joins in congratulating Michael Jewett, NU, for being recognized with the 2018 Young Investigator Award from the Biochemical Engineering Journal! Jewett has multiple ties to the CBC: in 2013, he received a CBC Catalyst Award in 2013 and was selected by the CBC Scholars to give a talk as part of the CBC Scholars “Loop Connections” Seminars’ series. In addition, he was an invited speaker at the 12th Annual CBC Symposium (2014), titled ‘Protein Engineering: From Computers to Cells to Clinic.’ Since 2016 until present, Michael has been serving on the CBC Catalyst Award Review Board (CRB). CBC appreciates Michael’s dedication and service and is proud to have supported his research.

2018 Young Investigator Award winner: Michael Jewett

Biochemical Engineering Journal  |  July 30, 2018

The Editors of the Biochemical Engineering Journal, in cooperation with Engineering Conferences International and Biochemical and Molecular Engineering XXI, are very pleased to announce the selection of Michael Jewett as the recipient of the 2018 Biochemical Engineering Journal Young Investigator Award.

Professor Jewett will present ‘Repurposing Ribosomes for Synthetic Biology’ at this year’s Biochemical and Molecular Engineering XXI conference in Mont Tremblant, Quebec, Canada. Scroll down to read the abstract.

About the winner

Michael Jewett, NU

Michael Jewett, NU

Michael Jewett is the Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence, an Associate Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering, and co-director of the Center for Synthetic Biology at Northwestern University. He received his PhD in 2005 at Stanford University. After completing postdoctoral studies as an NSF International Research Fellow at the Center for Microbial Biotechnology in Denmark and as an NIH Pathway to Independence Fellow at the Harvard Medical School, he joined Northwestern in 2009. Dr. Jewett’s lab seeks to re-conceptualize the way we engineer complex biological systems for compelling applications in medicine, materials, and energy by transforming biochemical engineering with synthetic biology. Dr. Jewett is the recipient of the NIH Pathway to Independence Award in 2009, David and Lucile Packard Fellowship in Science and Engineering in 2011, the DARPA Young Faculty Award in 2011, the Agilent Early Career Professor Award in 2011, the 3M non-tenured faculty grant in 2012, the Camille-Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award in 2015, and the ACS Biochemical Technologies Division Young Investigator Award in 2017.

Repurposing Ribosomes for Synthetic Biology

Michael Jewett, Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence, an Associate Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering, and co-director of the Center for Synthetic Biology, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, USA.

Imagine a world in which we could adapt biology to manufacture any therapeutic, material, or chemical from renewable resources, both quickly and on demand. Industrial biotechnology is one of the most attractive approaches for addressing this need, particularly when large-scale chemical synthesis is untenable. Unfortunately, current approaches to engineering organisms remain costly and slow. This is because cells themselves impose limitations on biobased product synthesis. It is difficult to balance intracellular fluxes to optimally satisfy a very active synthetic pathway while the machinery of the cell is functioning to maintain reproductive viability. Further, chemical reactions take place behind a selective barrier, the cell wall, which limits sample acquisition, monitoring, and direct control. In addition, cells are adapted to a relatively simple chemical operating system (i.e., a few common sugars, 20 amino acids), which presents researchers a limited set of accessible molecules with which to work. In this presentation, I will discuss my group’s efforts to overcome these limitations and widen the aperture of the traditional model of biotechnology. In one direction, we seek to create a new paradigm for engineering biocatalytic systems using cell-free biology. In another area, we are catalyzing new directions to repurpose the translation apparatus for synthetic biology. Our new paradigms for biochemical engineering are enabling a deeper understanding of why nature’s designs work the way they do, as well as opening the way to novel biobased products that have been impractical, if not impossible, to produce by other means.

About the Award

Launched in 2009, this now annual award recognizes outstanding excellence in research and practice contributed to the field of biochemical engineering by a young community member. Award winners receive a cash prize of 2,500 U.S. Dollars and present a Keynote Lecture at the Biochemical and Molecular Engineering conference (odd years) or the European Symposium on Biochemical Engineering Sciences (even years). Award recipients will submit a perspectives style article based on the topic of their lecture, which will serve as the central focus of a related Special Issue to be published in Biochemical Engineering Journal.


Adapted (with modifications) from the Biochemical Engineering Journal, published on July 30, 2018.

See also:

▸ Jewett Receives Young Investigator Award, Northwestern Engineering News, by Amanda Morris, published on July 30, 2018.

Featured scientist(s) with ties to cbc:

Michael Jewett, NU