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The Frontiers in Biotechnology Lectureship was established in 1999 through a generous donation from Dr. Noubar Afeyan to acknowledge the enabling technologies and developments that have sustained the growth of biotechnology and life sciences. Some of these include bioprocess engineering (upstream and downstream processes), bioanalytical developments, advanced and new instruments, novel delivery concepts, biomedical devices, rational drug design, computational methods, bioinformatics, and information technology. It is the intent of this Lectureship to recognize and honor achievements on the "frontiers of biotechnology" and the distinguished scientists and engineers responsible for them.

Dr. Noubar Afeyan
Dr. Afeyan, a native of Lebanon, received his B.S. in Chemical Engineering from McGill University in 1983. In 1987 he became the first person to receive a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the Biotechnology Process Engineering Center at MIT. Professor Daniel Wang supervised his thesis entitled A Mechanistic Study of the Clostridium Thermocellum Cellulase System. While at MIT, Dr. Afeyan developed a new chromatography process that could purify proteins for drug research at rates 10 to 1,000 times faster than existing technology.

Shortly after graduating from MIT, Dr. Afeyan used his knowledge of chromatography to found PerSeptive Biosystems, Inc. (then known as Synosys), which became a leader in the bio-instrumentation field. As Chairman and CEO, he oversaw PerSeptive's growth from $1 million in revenue in 1991 to $100 million in revenue in 1997. PerSeptive merged with PE Corporation in 1998, in a transaction valued at $360 million. He was Senior Vice President and Chief Business Officer of PE Corporation until August 1999. While at PE, Dr. Afeyan initiated and managed the creation of Celera Genomics, a tracking stock subsidiary of PE Corp. Celera recently announced completion of the sequencing of the human genome.

During 1996 and 1997, Dr. Afeyan served as Chairman of the Board of ChemGenics Pharmaceuticals, a privately-held genomics and drug discovery company spunoff from PerSeptive Biosystems and acquired by Millennium Pharmaceuticals in 1997. In addition to ChemGenics, PerSeptive and Celera, other successful high-tech startup companies with which he is affiliated as an investor/advisor or cofounder include Antigenics, Color Kinetics, and Exact Labs.

Dr. Afeyan is currently President and CEO of NewcoGen Group, a company he founded in 1999 for the purpose of creating, developing, and investing in newly formed enterprises in the information and life sciences. In addition, he is Managing Partner of Applied Genomic Technology Capital (AGTC) Fund LP, a new venture capital fund for the genomics industry. He is a member of the Board of Governers of the Boston University Medical School. He is also a special partner at OneLiberty Ventures and Senior Lecturer at MIT.

The Frontiers of Biotechnology Lecturers in Chemical Engineering

2005 - Jay D. Keasling, Director, Berkeley Center for Synthetic Biology, University of California , Berkeley
2004 - Douglas C. Cameron, Director of Biotechnology, Biotechnology Development Center, Cargill Incorporated


- Dr. Phillip A. Sharp, Director, McGovern Institute for Brain Research, MIT


- William H. Rastetter, IDEC Pharmaceuticals Corporation


- George M. Whitesides, Mallinckrodt Professor of Chemistry, Harvard University


- Mark J. Levin, Chairman and CEO, Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Inc.


- Inaugural Lecture Daniel I. C. Wang, Professor of Chemical Engineering, MIT