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Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Georges Belfort Elected to the National Academy of Engineering

February 24, 2003

Georges Belfort Elected to the National Academy of Engineering

Troy, N.Y. - Georges Belfort, professor of chemical engineering at Rensselaer, has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). Belfort, the Russell Sage Professor of Chemical Engineering at Rensselaer, was elected for his advances in bioseparations using membrane filtration, affinity processes, and membrane bioreactors for biotechnology. He joins the NAE as one of 77 new members and nine foreign associates.

Election to the NAE is one of the highest honors accorded to a person in engineering. Academy membership recognizes those who have made "important contributions to engineering theory and practice, including significant contributions to the literature of engineering theory and practice," said NAE President William A. Wulf. Membership also recognizes those who have demonstrated accomplishment in "the pioneering of new fields of engineering, making major advancements in traditional fields of engineering, or developing/implementing innovative approaches to engineering education."

Belfort joins Rensselaer President Shirley Ann Jackson and nine other faculty members who are members of the Academy.

"Dr. Belfort's work is at the intersection of engineering and biology," said President Jackson. "His pioneering work in biotechnology holds vast potential for medical science. For instance, he has developed better methods for separating proteins that, once scaled up for commercial use, could lead to increased production of desirable proteins such as insulin. Being elected to the National Academy of Engineering is a significant achievement for Dr. Belfort and for Rensselaer and its initiatives in biotechnology."

"My election is particularly pleasing as it acknowledges the wonderful and incisive research work of my many students, post-docs, visitors, and collaborators," said Belfort. "Their considerable efforts and the support of my wife, Marlene (an active collaborator), and three sons, David, Gabi, and Yona, has been critical. Together with Steven Cramer, his group, and others, we have been able to establish a nationally recognized center of excellence for the recovery of biological molecules as applied to the biotechnology industry. I am indebted to all these people and to Rensselaer for giving me the opportunity to think about and do unexpected things. Engineering and biology is a potent combination for advancing health care and offers a wonderful opportunity for the Rensselaer community."

About Georges Belfort
Belfort is a world-renowned authority on bioseparation, the science of recovering valuable proteins and other biological molecules from the complex mixtures in which they are produced. He is also an expert on the behavior of biological molecules at solid interfaces. Among his many awards, Belfort earned the American Chemical Society Award and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers Award in Separation Science and Technology in 1995 and 2000, respectively.

He was elected a fellow of the American Institute for Medical & Biological Engineering in 1994. He is co-founder and former president of the North American Membrane Society. He has twice been a fellow of the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science.

He is editor or co-editor of three books and has published more than 140 refereed journal articles and book chapters. He holds five patents (with others), including one for producing low-protein adhesive surfaces and one for a new filter design that self-cleans during filtration.

Belfort is a consultant to industry in the United States, Europe, and Japan. His research has been supported by governments and companies in those countries. He serves on the editorial board of several international journals and is the international editor of the Chemical Engineering Journal of Japan. Belfort earned his Ph.D. in 1972 and an M.S. in 1969, both in engineering, from the University of California at Irvine. He received his B.S. in chemical engineering in 1963 from the University of Cape Town in South Africa.

About the National Academy of Engineering
Founded in 1964, the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) provides engineering leadership in service to the nation. The NAE operates under the same congressional act of incorporation that established the National Academy of Sciences, signed in 1863 by President Lincoln. Under this charter the NAE is directed "whenever called upon by any department or agency of the government, to investigate, examine, experiment, and report upon any subject of science or art." The NAE is a private, independent, nonprofit institution. In addition to its role as adviser to the federal government, the NAE also conducts independent studies to examine important topics in engineering and technology.

Contact: Theresa Bourgeois
Phone: (518) 276-2840