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Pony Chung Foundation Selects KAIST’s Distinguished Professor Lee Sang-Yup as This Year’s Innovation Award Winner




- World’s foremost authority and pioneer of systems metabolic engineering

- First Korean to become a Foreign Member of the Royal Society, UK, this year… Simultaneously elected as an international member to the world’s three major academies

- Award ceremony scheduled to be held on August 18 at the Pony Chung Hall in IPARK Tower, Samseong-dong


The Pony Chung Foundation (Chairman Kim Chul-Su) selected KAIST’s Distinguished Professor (Vice President for Research) Lee Sang-Yup, the world’s foremost authority and pioneer of systems metabolic engineering, as the winner of the 15th Pony Chung Innovation Award.


Chairman Kim Chul-Su announced the reason behind the selection, stating that Professor Lee Sang-Yup is a scientist with great achievements and high status as he is the first Korean to become a Foreign Member of the Royal Society, UK, and excluding citizens from the US and the British Commonwealth, he is the only scientist in the world to simultaneously become an international member of the world’s three major academies – the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society. Chairman Kim Chul-Su added that systems metabolic engineering which Professor Lee pioneered is extremely meaningful as bio-based, eco-friendly technology utilizing microorganisms, which instills great expectations to its unlimited potential for development.


Professor Lee Sang-Yup teaches at KAIST as a Distinguished Professor and serves as the Vice President for Research. He was born in 1964 and obtained his bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering at Seoul National University and received his M.A. and Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering at Northwestern University. Professor Lee pioneered systems metabolic engineering and developed source technology, becoming well known as the world’s leading authority in his field. Systems metabolic engineering is a technology that overall designs and operates the metabolic pathways of cells and mass produces compounds. It is an integration of academic disciplines, combining metabolic engineering with systems biology, synthetic biology and more. Professor Lee’s research uses microorganisms to mass produce various compounds, so it is not only efficient, but also ethical and eco-friendly. Systems metabolic engineering received recognition for its excellence and was chosen as one of the Top 10 Emerging Technologies of 2016 by the World Economic Forum (WEF).


Professor Lee was elected as a Foreign Member of the Royal Society in May along with Professor V. Narry Kim, Chair Professor at the School of Biological Sciences, Seoul National University, once again proving that he is a world-renowned scientist. The Royal Society is an academic society with the world’s highest authority that was founded in London in 1660, and it is where eminent scientists such as Newton, Darwin and Einstein served as members. In April of this year, Professor Lee became the first non-western person to win the Charles D. Scott Award from the Society for Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology, USA, and in 2016, he became the first Asian to win the James E. Bailey Award from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.

The Pony Chung Innovation Award was established in 2006 and was named after the nickname of the late Chung Se-Yung, the founder of Hyundai Motor Company (predecessor of Hyundai Development Company) and Honorary Chairman of HDC Group, which was “Pony Chung.” It has been awarded to individuals or organizations that have made positive changes to our society through innovative thinking and presents a prize money of KRW 200 million along with a trophy.