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Gevo co-founder Frances H. Arnold wins 2018 Nobel Prize for Chemistry

Professor Frances H. Arnold of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) has been awarded the 2018 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for her work on “the directed evolution of enzymes.” She is also co-founder of US-based advanced renewable fuel and biochemical platform technology company, Gevo, Inc.

A winner of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Frances H. Arnold is the Linus Pauling Professor of Chemical Engineering, Bioengineering and Biochemistry, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, USA (photo courtesy Caltech).

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced October 3 that it has decided to split this year’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry with one half to Frances H. Arnold and the other half jointly to George P. Smith and Sir Gregory P. Winter.

According to the jury motivation, this year’s Nobel Laureates in Chemistry have been inspired by the “power of evolution and used the same principles – genetic change and selection – to develop proteins that solve mankind’s chemical problems.”

In 1993, Professor Frances H. Arnold conducted the first directed evolution of enzymes, which are proteins that catalyse chemical reactions. Since then, she has refined the methods that are now routinely used to develop new catalysts. The uses of Frances Arnold’s enzymes include more environmentally friendly manufacturing of chemical substances, such as pharmaceuticals, and the production of renewable fuels for a greener transport sector.

This award is well deserved. Frances has been a leader in the development of enzymes. Gevo has been the beneficiary of her good work. She, with her research group, developed some of the critical enzymes needed for Gevo’s biological pathway to produce renewable resource-based isobutanol. Her work helped to establish Gevo as a leader in renewable resource-based chemicals and fuels. We congratulate her on her Nobel Prize, and for co-founding Gevo, commented Dr Patrick R. Gruber, CEO of Gevo in a statement.

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