Jens Nielsen receives the Novozymes Prize 2016

Jens Nielsen, Professor of Systems Biology, gets the Danish Novozymes Prize for his pioneering work on, among other things, creating alternatives to fossil fuels. The award is three million DKK.

See also in calender: Jens Nielsen gives a seminar in connection with receiving the prize.

​Jens Nielsen is a pioneer in his field, according to the prize committee, with interdisciplinary attempts to describe and modify the metabolism of microorganisms. The aim is to get the microorganisms to produce chemicals in a cost-efficient manner. The method can then be used as an alternative to oil in the chemical industry.

– Getting the Novozymes Prize is a fantastic honor. In my work, I have always been particularly interested in understanding and changing the metabolism, so that we can apply this knowledge in the industry. To now get free funds to finance riskier projects is an enormous strength, and can be a possibility for gaining new insights that are essential if we are to improve the technology, says Jens Nielsen.

The Novozymes Prize is awarded by the Novo Nordisk Foundation, and rewards outstanding research or technological initiative that promotes development in the field of biotechnology. Nielsen, who is also Head of Division at the Department of Biology and Biological Engineering and Chief Scientific Officer at Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability, has been a front figure in the rapid development of systems biology in the last 20 years. The new and sustainable technology is currently facing its industrial breakthrough.

– The industrial utility of cell factories may lead to a society that is independent of fossil fuels. Furthermore, we may also get a number of new products that society needs, such as new antibiotics and new materials, says Jens Nielsen.

The prize money is three million Danish kroner, equivalent to nearly four million SEK. The prize will be given to Jens Nielsen on March 15. He will also, in connection to the prize, hold a lecture in Palmstedtsalen on March 7 between 3 and 4 PM.

Søren Molin, prize committee chairman, comments:
– Jens Nielsen is receiving the 2016 Novozymes Prize for his outstanding efforts over many years in developing systems biology. Jens Nielsen has unique knowledge of the most important aspects of the new systems biology – mathematics, reaction and fermentation science, data integration and modern microbial genetics. He has been able to combine and use this knowledge creatively and intuitively to contribute massively to the basic understanding of the physiology of microorganisms and how this is regulated.

About the Novozymes Prize
The Prize is awarded to recognize a pioneering research effort or a technological contribution that benefits the development of biotechnology science to generate innovative solutions. It is awarded for a predominantly European contribution. Prize winners must be employed at a public or non-profit research institution in an European country, but can be of any nationality. The Novozymes Prize committee awards the prize on behalf of the Novo Nordisk Foundation based on nominations received. Anyone may nominate a candidate for the prize.

About the Novo Nordisk Foundation
The Novo Nordisk Foundation is an independent Danish foundation with corporate interests. Its history goes back more than 90 years. The objectives of the foundation are to provide a stable basis for the commercial and research activities of the companies in the Novo Group, and to support scientific, humanitarian and social purposes.
The vision of the foundation is to contribute significantly to research and development that improves the health and welfare of people. Since 2007, the foundation has donated more than DKK 6 billion (€803 million), primarily for research within biomedicine and biotechnology at universities and hospitals in Denmark and the other Nordic countries. The foundation supports the entire research chain – from education to innovation.
In addition to awarding grants, the foundation annually awards several honorary prizes to recognize and reward individuals for their unique efforts in research, teaching or other efforts relevant to research.

Read more on the homepage of Novo Nordisk Foundation.

Text: Mia Malmstedt
Photo: ​Novo Nordisk Fonden

Published: Thu 11 Feb 2016. Modified: Thu 25 Feb 2016