October 2020

Remember Professor Daniel I-Chyau Wang

A Giant, Guru and Pioneer of an Era whose greatness transcends and transforms generations to come

Sad News and Warm Tributes
In the morning of August 29, 2020, Prof. Charlie Cooney, the Robert T. Haslam (1911) Professor Emeritus of Chemical Engineering at MIT, broke the news to all of Prof. Wang's students and colleagues: "I write to inform you of the sad news that our faculty colleague, Daniel I.C. Wang, passed away last night at his senior living residence, where he was in the presence of his wife, Victoria Wang." Charlie wrote, "We all know Danny as a great force in the Department [of Chemical Engineering], and one of the founding fathers of biochemical engineering and the biotech industry." Prof. Cooney was Prof. Daniel Wang's first Ph.D. student at MIT. He became a MIT professor and a close partner with Danny to build the field of Biochemical Engineering. "His work and impact in the field are profound and led to a major shift in the growth of chemical engineering at the interface with biology, where he extended chemical engineering concepts to bioreactors and the first efforts in bioprocesses, enzyme technology, and mammalian cell cultures among many other accomplishments", Prof. Cooney highlighted in his e-mail.

On a separate note, Dr. Paula T. Hammond, the David H. Koch Professor and head of the MIT Department of Chemical Engineering said, "Danny leaves a tremendous legacy, both at MIT and in the world In 1995 Danny was elected as an Institute Professor, which is the highest title that can be awarded to a faculty member and recognizes pathbreaking research." She wrote, "He was also known for his mentorship of students and faculty - in fact, Danny was my assigned faculty mentor when I joined the Department, and I was personally able to experience his wisdom, his direct manner and humor, and the extent to which he cared about the field and the Department I know that he was most proud of the achievements of his students. You all are his living legacy, carrying his work and teachings out into the world."

Later MIT News announced, "Daniel Wang, Institute Professor and pioneer in biochemical engineering, dies at 84", and " Longtime MIT Professor launched Biotechnology Process Engineering Center and influenced generations of students. He was considered one of the founding fathers of the field of biochemical engineering", acknowledged Anne Trafton, MIT News Office, September 02, 20202. In recognition of Wang's pioneering research, MIT's Frontiers of Biotechnology Lectureship was renamed for him in 2014. Now known as the Daniel I.C. Wang Lecture, the lectureship honors achievements at the frontiers of biotechnology, and the distinguished scientists and engineers responsible for them.

Moreover, AIChE's Society for Biological Engineering [SBE] of which Prof. Wang was a Co-Founder, also issued an announcement3. June Wispelwey, AIChE's Executive Director and CEO, emphasized, "Not only was Professor Wang a luminary in the field of biochemical engineering, but he was also a brilliant businessman Wang "realized that in order to reach its potential, SBE would need to develop a value proposition for members," which eventually extended to activities including the CHO Consortium on genomics, the James Bailey Award lecture, the SBE Hospitality Suite at AIChE meetings, and other programs.

Prof. Wang received numerous honors and awards, including the Amgen Biochemical Engineering Award in 1995 and the William H. Walker Award from the AIChE in 1994. He was elected a member both of the National Academy of Engineering and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Moreover, he is also an Academician of Academia Sinica of Taiwan. In 2019, the AIChE established an award in his honor ? the D.I.C. Wang Award for Excellence in Biochemical Engineering. The award is given annually to recognize individuals for their contributions to the field and to the practice of biochemical engineering through their position in industry or academia, as exemplified by Professor Wang in his 50 years of contributions.

Prof. Wang also contributed to national efforts in biotechnology, as chair of the Membership Committee of the National Academy of Engineering, a member of the National Biotechnology Policy Board at the National Institute of Health, a member of the National Research Council Committee on Bioprocess Engineering, a member of the National Research Council Committee on Biotechnology, and a member of the Board of Biology of the National Research Council.

In 2006, The Journal of Bioengineering and Biotechnology which Prof. Wang served as Editor-In-Chief for 8 years before, published a special issue to celebrate his 70th birthday4. In that issue many ground-breaking papers were assembled covering various subjects including microcarrier mammalian cell culture, bioprocess monitoring and computer control, and protein folding in reverse micelles, etc. In the same issue, a historical review entitled "Professor Daniel I.C. Wang: A Legacy of Education, Innovation, Publication, and Leadership", written by Drs. Noubar Afeyan and Charlie Cooney, describes in more details about Prof. Wang's career and the root of Biochemical Engineering.

Influence Beyond Border
Born in Nanking, China, Prof. Wang worked to establish international ties between MIT and universities in other countries, particularly in Asia. He established a joint program in molecular engineering of biological and chemical systems with the National University of Singapore, which became part of the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART) 2. Through such a collaboration, he helped train many students from Singapore, who formed the foundation of biotech industry there. As an Academician of Academia Sinica of Taiwan, Prof. Wang led an elite team of international biotech experts as the National Development Council to develop strategic plans for the government in 1998. He helped establish various innovative initiatives to jump start biotech industry there. During his tenure at MIT, Prof. Wang cultivated many biotech leaders from Asia in industry and academia, including China, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, and so on.

Warm Tributes in Asia
Sino Biological [Beijing Shenzhou I-Chyau Biological in Chinese] Inc. in Beijing, China, issued an announcement5 in Chinese on September 1, 2020. Sino Biological was founded in 2007 by Dr. LiangZhi Xie, one of Prof. Wang's MIT Ph.D. students from China. This is one of many shining examples of successful biotech companies started by Prof. Wang's advisees with his support. Sino Biological offers comprehensive CRO services to enable biologics R&D in the rapidly growing biopharma industry globally. Prof. Wang was a lifetime Advisor Emeritus of Sino Biological.

Meanwhile, there are several scientific journals which have a special issue in honor of Prof. Wang, including Synthetic Biology Journal [SynbioJ] (in Chinese), while newsletters will be issued by Asian Federation of Biotechnology [AFOB] and Biochemical Engineering Society of Taiwan [BEST]. In the past, Prof. Wang communicated frequently with the biotechnology communities in Asia and has made great contributions to the growth of biotechnology fields. He enthusiastically attended and gave plenary lectures in Asia-Pacific Biochemical Engineering Conference 1990 (APBioChEC'90, the predecessor of Asian Congress on Biotechnology) in Gyeongju, Korea and in Asian Congress of Biotechnology 2011 in Shanghai, China. Many AFOB members in Japan, Korea, Taiwan, China and Southeast Asia had delightful and fruitful interactions with him. He will be greatly missed.

Brief History ? Lineage of Biochemical Engineering
Prof. Wang earned two degrees from MIT ? a B.S. in 1959 and an M.S. in 1961. In 1963, he earned a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Wang's "lineage" traced back to Prof. Elmer Gaden Jr, Wills Johnson Professor Emeritus of the University of Virginia, widely regarded as the "father of biochemical engineering". A Ph.D. graduate from Columbia University, Prof. Gaden established Columbia University's program in Biochecmical Engineering in 1950's. He remained at Columbia for 26 years as a teacher, researcher, and department chair. Dr. Gaden's primary technical focus was biotechnology, especially bioprocesses. He was the founding editor of the international research journal Biotechnology and Bioprocesses. A Ph.D. advisee of Prof. Gaden's at Columbia University, Dr. Arthur Earl Humphrey5, a well-respected biochemical engineer who has taught at the University of Pennsylvania, was the Ph.D. advisor of Prof. Wang there. He was a member of National Academy of Engineering and received the John Fritz Medal (known as the "Nobel Prize for engineering.") in 1997. Prof. Humphrey was the Dean of Engineering and Applied Science from 1972 to 1980 at the University of Pennsylvania and former Provost and Vice President of Lehigh University, serving from 1980 to 1986. Later on he served as President of the AIChE from 1990 to 1991.

Blessed with two masters' technical knowledge and entrepreneurial vision, Prof. Daniel Wang arrived at MIT in 1965, carried the banner and further "scaled up" the field of Biochemical Engineering to cultivate generations of engineers and scientists, well educated in multi-disciplinary life sciences and engineering. At the time bioprocess technology was practiced in fermentation industry for various purposes such as food products, enzymes and biochemicals. By definition, it is a cross disciplinary field, applying chemical engineering principles in biological systems. Most professionals who practiced bioprocess technology typically obtained their education and training from in either life science or chemical engineering, but rarely both. Today, more than half a century later, many leaders contributed significantly to the evolving CMC of biologics development in global biopharmaceutical industries have benefited from the multidisciplinary education programs established by Prof. Wang at MIT.

Impactful Transformational Accomplishments
Biotechnology Process Engineering Center [BPEC] was founded in 1985 as one of the first national Engineering Research Centers [NRC] funded by the National Science Foundation [NSF] and has evolved to a current core mission of fusing the practice of engineering with the science of biology to meet technological challenges in the biotechnology industry. "The underlying premise of this mission is that the molecular and genomics revolutions in biology require engineering analysis, design, and synthesis in order that breakthrough discoveries can be translated effectively into products and create new industries ? as well as to foster further developments in basic science."

The establishment of MIT's BPEC coincided with the overall emergence of biotechnology as an industry and a research field. Wang and other early pioneers developed ways to use emerging knowledge about the genetics of microbes to engineer them to produce useful products. Prof. Wang was the driving force behind MIT's BPEC, an interdisciplinary research center that brought together faculty from the departments of biology, chemistry, and chemical engineering. At that time, interdisciplinary collaborations were informal and rare. As one of many major national objectives6, "the NSF provided core funding for a team comprising 12 faculty investigators ? 5 engineers, 6 biologists, and a chemist ? and over 20 of their students and postdocs" to focus on various specific problems in the areas of biotechnology.

This bold move was extraordinary at a time when interdisciplinary research and education at the interface of engineering and biological sciences was not common, unlike what the global collaboration we are used to today. Since then almost all Chemical Engineering Departments of major universities reorganized their departments to incorporate biological sciences, such as Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department at University of California, Berkeley; University of California, Los Angeles; New York University; University of Maryland; University of Illinois; or Chemical and Biological Engineering Department at Northwestern University, Princeton University, University of Wisconsin, etc.

He also worked closely with the biotechnology industry and was one of the original members of Biogen's scientific board, where he was instrumental in the company's development of the manufacturing of complex biopharmaceuticals. Such interdisciplinary collaboration between Biology and Chemical Engineering is how biochemical engineers become well trained in school and be ready to serve the biotech industry. This type of strategic national program, which fosters collaboration among US government, universities and industry, transformed US biotech companies into the world class frontier industry today. BPEC's success marks the most impactful achievement at national level. It is the model which emerging markets desperately need to establish their own biopharmaceutical industry.

1. "Professor Danny I.C. Wang, 1936-2020", MIT Chemical Engineering Department, Chairman Paula Hammond, September 4, 2020.

2. MIT News, Anne Trafton, MIT News Office, September 02, 2020,

3. AIChE Biological Engineering CheEnected News, , September 8. 2020 by Gordon Ellis

4. Special Issue: A celebration of Daniel I.C. Wang at 70, Bioengineering and Biotechnology, Pages 205-332, Volume 95, Issue 2, , October 5, 2006.

5. 한자깨짐 대체용 이미지

6. Biotechnology Process Engineering Center Overview

About the Authors:
This article is contributed by Dr. Steven Lee and Dr. Tzyy-Wen Chiou.
Dr. Steven Lee received B.S. in Agricultural Chemistry from National Taiwan University, Taiwan and M.S. In Chemical Engineering from University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI. He joined MIT Biochemical Engineering program as Prof. Daniel Wang's Ph.D. student from 1985 to 1989. After MIT, he worked for three large global biopharmaceutical companies, Roche, Merck & Co. Inc. and Bristol-Myers Squibb Company for 20 years. Dr. Lee served as BMS VP and GM, Process development and Biologics Manufacturing for before he returned to Singapore in 2008, where he worked closely with Prof. Daniel Wang as CEO of A-Bio Pharma co-founded by him to help build Singapore's biotech industry. A-Bio Pharma was successfully acquired by Luye Pharma Group, China. Then Dr. Lee joined DRL Biologics as Head of Tech Ops and CEO, Singapore Biologics Operations. Subsequently he formed BioGENEXUS, LLC in USA to provide global biotech consulting services focused on CMC, business strategy, operations and mentoring CEOs.
Dr. Tzyy-Wen Chiou is an active member of both AFOB and BEST. She received B.S. and M.S. in Agricultural Chemistry from National Taiwan University, Taiwan and received the Ph.D. degree in Biochemical Engineering at MIT advised by Prof. Daniel Wang. She coauthored the first APBioChEC'90 paper entitled "Animal Cell Culture Engineering" with Prof. Wang. After MIT, she worked in Academia Sinica of Taiwan as associate research fellow in Institute of Chemistry. Now, she is the Distinguished Professor in the Department of Life Science and Graduate Institute of Biotechnology, National Dong Hua University, Taiwan.