As the director of NIIMBL, the National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals, Kelvin Lee is a changemaker in the biomanufacturing industry, which has the potential to save lives, improve national security, and increase economic development in the United States.
For his impact in microbial and biochemical technology, Lee, Gore Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Delaware, has received the 2019 Marvin J. Johnson Award in Microbial & Biochemical Technology from the American Chemical Society's Division of Biochemical Technology. He will receive the award at the spring meeting of the American Chemical Society, to be held from March 31 to April 4, 2019.
"Kelvin has the unique ability to combine scientific excellence with a level of vision and leadership quality to impact the broader biotechnology community," said Wilfred Chen, Gore Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at UD and the 2017 recipient of the Marvin J. Johnson Award.
Lee joins Chen and two other UD colleagues who have received the Marvin J. Johnson Award --Abraham Lenhoff (2011) and Eleftherios Papoutsakis (1998). UD and the University of California at Berkeley are the only two universities to have four winners of the Marvin J. Johnson Award on their faculties.
Leadership and research excellence
With NIIMBL, a Manufacturing USA Institute headquartered in Newark, Delaware, Lee and the NIIMBL team lead a national consortium working to bring safe drugs to market faster and developing workforce training in the field of biopharmaceuticals. While many pharmaceuticals utilize chemistry to treat disease, biopharmaceuticals utilize living cells, offering increased opportunity for personalized medicine and other advances. Before he took the helm of NIIMBL, Lee was the director of the Delaware Biotechnology Institute from 2008 to 2017. There, he increased biotechnology research, education, and workforce development in the state of Delaware.
Lee can help others make strides in biotechnology because he continuously does so himself. He is a principal investigator or co-principal investigator on three National Science Foundation grants: two in advanced biomanufacturing and another in systems biology. In recently published articles, he has demonstrated a new model to study how drugs move through and are processed by brain tissue, shedding light on a key problem in biopharmaceutical manufacturing, and more.
Among other honors, Lee is also a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE). He has received the Professional Progress Award from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE).
Lee joined the UD faculty in 2007 from Cornell University, where he served as the Samuel C. and Nancy M. Fleming Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and as director of the Institute for Biotechnology and Life Science Technologies and also of the New York State Center for Life Science Enterprise. A graduate of Princeton University, Lee received his master's and doctoral degrees from the California Institute of Technology and also studied at the Institute of Biotechnology of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology.