Stephen Wallace awarded Biochemical Society’s Colworth Medal
Dr Stephen Wallace, a UKRI Future Leaders Fellow and Senior Lecturer in Biotechnology is the recipient of the Colworth Medal in the annual Biochemical Society Awards.
Each year, the Biochemical Society presents a series of prestigious awards that recognize excellence and achievement in both specific and general fields of science.
Stephen is one of twelve eminent bioscientists and exceptional early career researchers whose work has been acknowledged in the annual awards.
Dr Stephen Wallace’s lab uses a combination of chemical and biological tools to convert renewable materials, such as carbon dioxide, sugar and waste materials, into high value chemicals.
Many valuable chemicals - including fuels, medicines, flavour and fragrances - are currently produced from oil, a non-renewable natural resource.
Relying on dwindling supplies of fossil fuels to produce chemicals by traditional synthetic processes requires lots of energy and generates high carbon emissions which contribute to climate change.
Stephen’s team are finding more sustainable ways of producing these chemicals by equipping living bacteria with the ability to perform new chemical reactions.
This approach is part of the rapidly advancing field of synthetic biology, which applies engineering principles to biology.
By reprogramming living cells with new and useful functions researchers can, for example, turn bacteria into environmentally-friendly living factories to produce chemicals.
Stephen’s team take a multidisciplinary approach combining synthetic biology with powerful synthetic chemistry techniques.
This enables the production of industrial chemicals that cannot be made via synthetic biology alone and would otherwise remain reliant on fossil fuels.
Current projects in his lab include:
- Using unexplored microorganisms for green chemical synthesis
- Combining chemical and enzymatic catalysis in cells
- Constructing new biosynthetic pathways to make active pharmaceutical ingredients
- Evolution of new enzymatic chemistry
- Making useful chemicals from industrial waste using designer microbial cells
Receiving the Colworth Medal from the Biochemical Society is an incredible honour and one I’d like to share with my amazing lab and all of the trailblazing scientists who have mentored me through the years. I think we’re only beginning to glimpse what microbes can achieve in the field of sustainable chemical synthesis and so this award is a tremendous motivation for me and my team to keep pushing forward our work in this area.
About the Biochemical Society Awards
Biochemical Society Award candidates are nominated by their peers. The winners are selected by a judging panel of respected scientists from across a range of different scientific backgrounds.
The winners will receive their prize and deliver an award or medal lecture in 2023.
All of the awards and medal lectureships carry prize money and winners will be invited to submit an article to one of the Society’s journals.