New York University Chemist Nadrian Seeman has been named winner of the 2005 World Technology Award for Biotechnology by the World Technology Network (WTN), a global peer-elected association of the world’s leading science and technology innovators. Seeman was named the recipient after the organization stripped the initial winner, Dr. Woo Suk Hwang, of the honor last week. Hwang was awarded the honor in November 2005 at a gala ceremony at San Francisco City Hall for his research on stem cells and human cloning—research that has since been found to be falsified.
“We are happy to announce that the 2005 World Technology Award for Biotechnology will go to Dr. Seeman, whose ground-breaking work in DNA-based nanotechnology is paving the way for a revolution in computing and robotics,” said WTN Chairman and Founder, James P. Clark. “Dr. Seeman’s research represents the cutting edge of biotechnology.”
“The WTN is deeply troubled by Dr. Hwang’s actions,” Clark added. “Given the findings announced by the Seoul National University investigative panel, along with the other recent revelations, we have no choice but to withdraw this award.”
Seeman and his colleagues at NYU have developed the field of DNA nanotechnology, which has grown so that it is now pursued by numerous labs around the world. The systems they have produced enable the specific organization of a variety of other chemical species, relevant to nanoelectronics, photonics and drug design. They have also built machines that work on the nano-scale, such as a device that allows for the translation of DNA sequences, thereby serving as a factory for assembling the building blocks of new materials. The invention has the potential to develop new synthetic fibers, advance the encryption of information, and improve DNA-based computation. The device, developed with NYU Chemistry graduate student Shiping Liao, emulates the process by which RNA replicas of DNA sequences are translated to create protein sequences.
In addition, Seeman was cited by ‘Nanotech Briefs’ last fall as one of the first annual ‘Nano50’, leaders in Nanotechnology. The work honors him as an innovator in the category of bio/medical research.
Furthermore, Seeman received a MERIT award last fall from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). MERIT is an acronym standing for “Method to Extend Research in Time,” and its recipients are given awards lasting eight to ten years (NIH grants typically last three to five years). Fewer than 5 percent of NIH grants are MERIT awards, and they are meant to recognize excellence in research over an extended period of time. Seeman’s award comes after more than 20 years of work on the biophysics of branched molecules.
Seeman’s MERIT award will fund his research program, “Physical Chemistry of Recombinational Intermediates,” which explores the use of DNA nanotechnology to answer biological questions related to the structural processes involved in genetic recombination.
For more information on the World Technology Network, World Technology Awards and World Technology Summit, please visit this website: www.wtn.net.