Jun 22, 2012
Yi Tang receives Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award from EPA
Yi Tang, a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science and a professor of chemistry and biochemistry, has been awarded the 2012 Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The annual award recognizes pioneering chemical technologies developed by leading researchers and industrial innovators who are making significant contributions to pollution prevention in the U.S.
Tang's winning technology resulted in a new, less-hazardous manufacturing process for simvastatin, a leading cholesterol-lowering statin drug.
Simvastatin is the most frequently prescribed statin, with more than 94 million prescriptions filled in 2010.
Though the drug is manufactured from a natural product
, the traditional synthesis was a wasteful, multi-step chemical process that used large amounts of hazardous reagents. Tang conceived of a synthesis that instead used an engineered enzyme and a practical, low-cost feedstock.
He partnered with Codexis Inc.
— a developer of industrial enzymes that enable the cost-advantaged production of biofuels, bio-based chemicals and pharmaceutical
intermediates — to optimize both the enzyme and the chemical process for commercial use. Codexis was also presented with the EPA award.