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Professor Albert Keung will receive the AIChE 2023 Langer Prize Fellowship

Professor Albert Keung
Professor Albert Keung

The American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) will present its 2023 Langer Prize Fellowship for Innovation and Entrepreneurial Excellence to Albert J. Keung, CBE Associate Professor, University Faculty Scholar and Goodnight Distinguished Scholar. The prize awards an unrestricted grant of up to $100,000 to enable creative researchers and engineering entrepreneurs in their early careers to pursue “blue-sky” ideas that may lead to significant innovations with transformative societal impact.

The fellowship — which is endowed by the AIChE Foundation — is named for biomedical pioneer Robert Langer of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. Keung — who is pursuing the use of modified DNA as a substrate for data storage — will receive the Langer Prize and present an associated lecture during the 2023 AIChE Annual Meeting.

Kristi Anseth, the Tisone Distinguished Professor at the University of Colorado and Chair of the Langer Prize selection committee, said, “We were impressed by Dr. Keung’s exceptional record of achievements and his creative approaches to solve important problems. The proposed technology is innovative and should help unlock the storage potential of DNA.”

In acknowledging the Langer Prize honor, Keung said, “I am very thankful for this fellowship program, and for its camaraderie and resources, to help accelerate innovation and entrepreneurship. I am also thankful for the trainees in my group and the collaborators that have led us to this point in developing technologies. I’m also excited about how the fellowship can help move forward their legacies and involvement in entrepreneurship as well.”

One focus area of Keung’s research is studying how information is stored and accessed in biological systems. The team focuses on the engineering of DNA, which is already being used as the information substrate in engineering molecular diagnostics, as well as for the production of biofuels, cancer immunotherapies, and vaccines. Keung’s team sees potential beyond these applications, including the use of DNA to address challenges in data storage and computation, programmable materials, and climate mitigation.

To that end, Keung co-founded DNAli Data Technologies, Inc., with a mission to drive the expansion of a DNA-based economy. Among the key technologies Keung has licensed to the company is the modification of DNA oligos created through sustainable enzymatic synthesis. Keung will discuss this work in his Langer Prize lecture.

Albert Keung has previously been recognized with the National Institutes of Health’s Avenir Award, the American Chemical Society’s Synthetic Biology Young Innovator Award, the National Science Foundation’s CAREER Award, and the Goodnight Early Career Innovator Award, among others. He is a chemical engineering alumnus of Stanford University and the University of California. Berkeley, and he was a postdoctoral fellow in biomedical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Boston University.

Congratulations to Prof. Keung for this recognition of your excellent and ongoing research accomplishments!

Additional information about Prof. Keung’s research into DNA data storage is covered in the following articles on this site:

New Twist on DNA Data Storage Lets Users Preview Stored Files (August 13, 2021)

A New Approach to DNA Data Storage (November 8, 2020)

Driving the Scalability of DNA Information Storage (August 1, 2019)

The original version of this article appears on the AIChE website.