Frances Arnold has been awarded the Millennium Technology Prize by the Technology Academy Finland (TAF) for her “directed evolution” method, which creates new and better proteins in the laboratory using principles of evolution. The Millennium Technology Prize is the world’s most prominent award for technological innovations that enhance the quality of people’s lives and is valued at one million euros (approximately $1.13 million USD).
The Millennium Technology Prize is awarded every two years by TAF to “groundbreaking technological innovations that enhance the quality of people’s lives in a sustainable manner,” according to the prize website. The prize was first awarded in 2004. Past recipients include Sir Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the World Wide Web; Shuji Nakamura, the inventor of bright blue and white LEDs; and ethical stem cell pioneer Shinya Yamanaka. Read the full article from TAF here: Biochemical Engineer Frances Arnold Wins 2016 Millennium Technology Prize for ‘Directed Evolution’ Revolution
Here is an excerpt from the article:
“With directed evolution it is possible to create proteins with useful properties that would not develop without human intervention. Frances Arnold’s method generates random mutations in the DNA – just as it happens in nature. The modified genes produce proteins with new properties, from which the researcher can choose the useful ones, repeating the process until the level of performance needed by industry is achieved.
‘Directed evolution allows us to circumvent our inability to explain how mutations affect protein behavior, much less to predict beneficial ones. The most beautiful, complex, and functional objects on the planet have been made by evolution. We can now use evolution to make things that no human knows how to design. Evolution is the most powerful engineering method in the world, and we should make use of it to find new biological solutions to problems,’ says Frances Arnold.
Arnold’s innovations have revolutionized the slow and costly process of protein modification, and today her methods are being used in hundreds of laboratories and companies around the world. Modified proteins are used to replace processes that are expensive or that utilize fossil raw materials in the production of fuels, paper products, pharmaceuticals, textiles and agricultural chemicals.”
Photo credit: Technology Academy Finland