CBE Seminars & Events
Britton Chance Distinguished Lecture in Engineering and Medicine
The 2014 Britton Chance Distinguished Lecture in Engineering and Medicine sponsored by the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.
Dr. James C. Liao
Ralph M. Parsons Foundation Professor and Chair
Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
University of California, Los Angeles
"Rewriting the Pathways to Life"
Wednesday, October 8, 2014, 3:00 PM, Wu and Chen Auditorium, Levine Hall
Production of chemicals and fuels using biological methods is a goal that has been pursued for
decades, if not centuries. Although success stories have been increasing recently, it is still difficult for the biological process to compete with traditional chemical processes. One of the major limitations of biological processes lies in the central pathways that support all life processes on earth. In particular, glycolysis, a fundamental metabolic pathway in life that exists in almost all organisms that is used to decompose sugars, proceeds in a way that loses one-third of the carbon to CO2 when producing most of the fuels and chemicals. As a result, almost all biofuel and biochemical production processes suffer a significant loss in yield. The pathway proceeds through partial oxidation and splitting of sugars to pyruvate, which in turn is decarboxylated to produce acetyl-coenzyme A (CoA) for various biosynthetic purposes. The decarboxylation of pyruvate loses a carbon equivalent, and limits the theoretical carbon yield to only two moles of two-carbon (C2) metabolites per mole of hexose. This native route is a major source of carbon loss in biorefining and microbial carbon metabolism. In this talk, I will discuss the design and construction of a non-oxidative, cyclic pathway that allows the production of stoichiometric amounts of C2 metabolites from hexose, pentose, and triose phosphates without carbon loss. This pathway, termed Non-Oxidative Glycolysis (NOG), enables complete carbon conservation in sugar catabolism to acetyl-CoA, and can be used in conjunction with CO2 fixation and other one-carbon (C1) assimilation pathways to achieve 100 percent carbon yield to desirable fuels and chemicals.
James C. Liao is currently the Ralph M. Parsons Foundation Professor and
Chair of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of California,
Los Angeles. He is a pioneer in metabolic engineering and synthetic biology.
He received his B.S. degree from National Taiwan University and Ph.D. from the
University of Wisconsin-Madison. After working as a research scientist at Eastman
Kodak Company, Rochester, NY, he started his academic career at Texas A&M University in 1990 and moved to UCLA in 1997. He has received numerous awards and recognitions, including the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award (2010), and the White House “Champion of Change” distinction for innovations in renewable energy (2012). In 2013, he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering and received the ENI Renewable Energy Prize, bestowed by the President of Italy. He received the National Academy of Sciences Award for the Industrial Application of Science in 2014.
Previous Britton Chance Distinguished Lecturers
|1995||Lewis S. Edelheit, General Electric Company|
|1996||Douglas A. Lauffenburger, Massachusetts Institute of Technology|
||George Georgiou, University of Texas at Austin|
|1999||Jeffrey A. Hubbell, University of Zürich|
|2000||W. Mark Saltzman, Cornell University|
|2001||Chaitan S. Khosla, Stanford University|
|2002||Sangtae Kim, Lilly Research Laboratories|
|2003||Larry V. McIntire, Rice University|
|2004||Deborah E. Leckband, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign|
|2004||Stephen R. Quake, Stanford University|
|2005||Frances H. Arnold, California Institute of Technology|
|2006||Adam P. Arkin, University of California at Berkeley|
|2007||Kristi S. Anseth, University of Colorado at Boulder|
|2008||Jay D. Keasling, University of California at Berkeley|
Mark E. Davis, California Institute of Technology
David A. Tirrell, California Institute of Technology
Frank S. Bates, University of Minnesota
Arup K. Chakraborty, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Melody A. Swartz, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne