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Friday, March 11, 2011

Arnold, Stemmer to Receive Draper Prize

The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) will honor Frances Arnold and Willem Stemmer with the Charles Stark Draper Prize, the nation’s top engineering honor, for their pioneering contributions that enable researchers to guide the creation of certain properties in proteins and cells during a Feb. 22 ceremony.

Arnold and Stemmer’s joint development of directed protein evolution has helped those working in engineering, chemistry, and biochemistry find more practical and cost effective ways to develop improvements in areas including food ingredients, drugs, agricultural products, gene delivery systems, laundry aids, and biofuels.

Arnold, the Dick and Barbara Dickinson Professor of Chemical Engineering, Bioengineering, and Biochemistry at the California Institute of Technology, has the distinction of having been elected to all three membership organizations of the National Academies -- the NAE in 2000, the Institute of Medicine in 2004, and the National Academy of Sciences in 2008.

Stemmer is the chief executive of Amunix, which develops drugs with an extended serum half-life, enabling less frequent injection.

The Charles Stark Draper Prize is a $500,000 annual award that honors engineers whose accomplishments have significantly benefited society. It is considered the Nobel Prize of engineering.

The NAE will also honor Edward Crawley, a Member of the Corporation at Draper Laboratory, with the Bernard M. Gordon Prize for his efforts to improve engineering education through inclusion of skills needed in industry like teamwork, problem solving, and product development that may otherwise go untaught.

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