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Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Rensselaer Announces New Head of Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies

September 23, 2008

Rensselaer Announces New Head of Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies

Jonathan Dordick

Jonathan Dordick, the Howard P. Isermann ’42 Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering at Rensselaer, has been named the new director of the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies (CBIS). Dordick, who has been with Rensselaer for a decade, plans to use his expertise in both academic research and entrepreneurship to continue to grow the reputation and research funding for the $80 million research center. 

“Dr. Dordick is an accomplished educator and researcher who has had a major impact on his field during his career,” said Rensselaer President Shirley Ann Jackson. “I look forward to working with him toward maintaining the momentum of the biotechnology center’s growth, overseeing the Institute’s priorities in biotechnology research, coordinating and developing the center’s research programs and core facilities, and facilitating its strategic growth opportunities.” 

As director, Dordick plans to use the center to direct the individual research of faculty and students toward discoveries that can easily be translated to actual lifesaving technologies and medicines.

“Thanks to strong leadership to this point, the center is starting to gather a wider and more global reputation,” Dordick said. “We have some truly outstanding faculty within the center, including some promising young faculty, highly motivated and productive professional staff, and of course extremely bright and innovative students. Now, we need to move beyond the strength of individual research groups and put our combined expertise together to solve some of the greatest problems facing modern medicine.”

Dordick plans to accomplish this by using many of the skills that he acquired as an entrepreneur and business owner. “Often academic research does not lend itself easily toward application,” he said. “I would like to see the foundational research discoveries in our labs translated into actual products that can be used to save lives by combining our own research expertise with those of government and especially corporate laboratories.”

Dordick has nearly 22 years of research experience behind him. His research interests are broadly in the areas of biocatalysis, bioengineering, and nanobiotechnology. He most recently developed a biochip that could eliminate animal testing in the chemicals and cosmetics industries, and drastically curtail its use in the development of new pharmaceuticals. The co-founder of EnzyMed Inc., a pharmaceutical discovery company, he is currently a co-founder of Solidus Biosciences, a venture-stage biotechnology company. In addition, he serves on the scientific advisory boards for several biotechnology companies and has served as chair of the division of biochemical technology for the American Chemical Society (ACS). 

Dordick joined the Rensselaer faculty in 1998, and served as the Chemical and Biological Engineering Department chair for four years. He began his academic career in 1987 at the University of Iowa as an assistant professor, and eventually was promoted to full professor in 1994. He served as chair of the Chemical and Biochemical Engineering Department from 1995 through 1998 and as associate director of the Center for Biocatalysis and Bioprocessing from 1991 through 1998. He also recently received the ACS’s prestigious Marvin J. Johnson Award in Microbial and Biochemical Technology. The award is the highest biotechnology honor of the ACS, and is designated for a researcher who has made a substantial impact over the continuum of his or her career.

Dordick received his doctorate in biochemical engineering in 1986 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is a fellow of both the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

He takes over for Robert Linhardt, who has served as acting director since 2007. Linhardt will returns to his role as the Ann and John H. Broadbent Jr. ’59 Senior Constellation Professor of Biocatalysis and Metabolic Engineering.

Contact: Gabrielle DeMarco
Phone: (518) 276-6542


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About Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Founded in 1824, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is America’s first technological research university. Rensselaer encompasses five schools, 32 research centers, more than 145 academic programs, and a dynamic community made up of more than 7,900 students and more than 100,000 living alumni. Rensselaer faculty and alumni include more than 145 National Academy members, six members of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, six National Medal of Technology winners, five National Medal of Science winners, and a Nobel Prize winner in Physics. With nearly 200 years of experience advancing scientific and technological knowledge, Rensselaer remains focused on addressing global challenges with a spirit of ingenuity and collaboration.