Millennium-award winning Frances Arnold visited Oulu for the EMBO conference

Biochemical engineer and Millennium-award winner Frances Arnold visited Oulu for the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) conference 12­–15 June. The conference focused on cutting-edge research on biochemistry and chemistry of biocatalysis. The keynote lecture was given by professor Arieh Warshel, 2013 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry.

In addition to speaking at the conference, Millennium-award winner Arnold shared inspirational insights on her research with directed evolution at an open public lecture at the University of Oulu. With directed evolution that mimics natural selection in a laboratory, it is possible to create completely new kind of proteins. This way to modify biological world opens up a universe of possibilities and practical applications in the fields of clean technology and renewable energy, just to mention a few.

”I’d like to enhance people’s lives by making the way we live much cleaner and more efficient. Biology is the best engineer of all time and we have a lot to learn from it”, Arnold opens up her motivations. Learning new things on a day to day basis and being able to solve real human problems inspire her in her work every day.

Arnold really enjoyed the conference and being able to see biocatalysis research all over the world. She also met researchers from the University of Oulu and learned about Biocenter Oulu and their fundamental research on how enzymes really do what they do. Among the most fascinating talks at the conference Arnold mentions one by a researcher studying enzymes that break down sellulose and lignin from trees.

”There are a lot of trees here in Finland and those are an amazing source of chemicals and fuels for the future if we can learn how to use biology to convert them into things that we might need”, Arnold concludes.

Text: Tiina Repotaival / Kuulu

Photo: Ville Pohjonen / Kuulu

Last updated: 1.7.2016