‘Scientific superstar’ named Honorary Doctor at DTU

Biotechnology and biochemistry

As part of the annual DTU Commemoration ceremony, Professor Sang Yup Lee has been awarded the title of Honorary Doctor. The South Korean Professor is a former Scientific Director at DTU Biosustain and remains a valued collaborator of the center and of DTU.

This Friday Professor Sang Yup Lee was awarded the title of Honorary Doctor (Doctor Technices honoris causa) at DTU. The conferral took place at the annual ball as part of the DTU Commemoration and the president of DTU, Anders Bjarklev, presented Professor Sang Yup Lee with the title ‘in recognition of his groundbreaking work on systems metabolic engineering of microbial cell factories’.

Professor Sang Yup Lee is proud to be recognized: “I am very honored to receive an honorary doctorate degree from DTU, one of the best science and engineering universities in the world,” says Professor Lee who emphasizes that the recognition has extra merit coming from DTU.

“This means a lot to me as I was involved in collaboration activities with DTU on several cases, including of course serving as a Scientific Director of the New Bioactive Compounds section at The Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability (DTU Biosustain) for several years,” says the professor, who feels certain that Korea and Denmark, will have stronger and more fruitful collaborations in the years to come.

In connection with his affiliation with DTU Professor Lee published about 60 papers with DTU affiliation, several of these being in high-impact journals, and he has recruited and mentored young PIs and collaborated with them even after leaving the university. These young PIs are becoming future scientific stars here at DTU and thus Professor Sang Yup Lee has significantly contributed to the advancement of DTU standings in international rankings, and to the Danish biotech industry.

"I think this decision is more than well-deserved and we are lucky to include Professor Lee as one of our honorable members at DTU."
Dina Petranovic, CSO & CPO at DTU Biosustain

A scientific superstar and an advisor to the Korean Government
This is not the first time that Professor Lee has been honored for his academic achievements. According to the nomination he has written many scientific books and published almost 700 peer reviewed scientific papers. Several of these have appeared in high impact journals like PNAS, Nature, Nature Biotechnology and Nature Communications. In addition, his research findings have also been translational, as he is an inventor of more than 700 patents – of which many have been licensed to industry.

Thus, Professor Lee is truly a scientific superstar with more than 3,200 appearances in newspapers, TV, and magazines. His academic accomplishments have been an important factor to his function as a regular advisor on science and engineering to the Korean Government.

Among the top-three world leaders in industrial biotechnology
All this considered, it wasn’t a difficult decision to name professor Sang Yup Lee as an Honorary Doctor, states the Chair of the evaluation committee, Dina Petranovic.

“As the Chief Scientific Officer and the Chief Partnership Officer at DTU Biosustain, but also as a researcher in microbial cell factories, I am both officially and personally very pleased. I think this decision is more than well-deserved and we are lucky to include Professor Lee as one of our honorable members at DTU. On top of his academic achievements, he is a wonderful and selfless colleague who has done so much for the international research community. He has indeed been valuable here at DTU and will continue to be beyond his formal status of Scientific Director. We will continue to collaborate and rely on his advice, insights, and creativity,” says Dina Petranovic.

In the Evaluation committee’s recommendation of Professor Sang Yup Lee he is considered to be among the top three world leaders in industrial biotechnology and he is named ‘a truly outstanding scientist’: “We, in the Evaluation Committee, are convinced that his decisive personal impact as a trailblazing scientist, as a thought leader, as a community builder and as a science communicator on the development of the scientifically and societally highly relevant field of Metabolic Engineering fully justify bestowing this honor on Professor Sang Yup Lee,” states the recommendation.

Facts about Professor Sang Yup Lee

Professor Sang Yup Lee is from South Korea and was born in 1964. Among other roles nationally and internationally he is currently the Vice President for Research, Distinguished Professor and Director of several research centers at Korea Advanced Institute for Science and Technology (KAIST).

Professor Lee’s work is among the most influential in the field of industrial biotechnology. He is credited for having had an invaluable impact to convince industry that a sustainable production of chemicals with the aid of biotechnology is both possible and a reality.

Professor Lee has also made seminal contributions and a leading role in bridging systems and synthetic biology for the application in biotechnology. The established platforms were continuously expanded to demonstrate microbial production of an ever-growing number of product families – primary and secondary metabolites, new-to-nature molecules, biofuels, amino acids, dicarboxylic acids, diamines, colorants, nutraceuticals, cosmetic ingredients, materials, nanomaterials, spider silk protein, and many others.