The perfect storm created by global warming, the uncertain price and tight supply of crude oil, the increasing threat of epidemics, our declining stocks of life-saving medications and the wasteful manner in which drugs are manufactured has created an urgent need to develop and implement sustainable manufacturing technologies for the production of cleaner fuels and more efficacious pharmaceuticals. Of the alternatives that have been suggested, metabolic engineering appears strongly positioned to deliver the future of greener manufacturing. Manufacturing schemes based on metabolic engineering utilize renewable biomass-derived feedstocks, employ benign operating conditions, eliminate the use of hazardous reagents and solvents, replace stoichiometric reagents with biocatalytic cycles, and are the ultimate demonstration of reaction intensification. Moreover, our understanding of biological processes and our ability to precisely control the metabolic networks of microorganisms such as yeast and bacteria have witnessed phenomenal gains during the past two decades, and our repository of gene and protein data continues to grow. Aided by these developments, metabolic engineers can contemplate novel applications of life’s chemistries and synthesize molecules that are tailored to address unique needs.
My research group – the BioFoundry – utilises metabolic & enzyme engineering to investigate and customise novel biosynthetic enzymes that can convert biomass-derived feedstocks into better fuels, pharmaceuticals and value-added chemicals. We also extend these principles to the design and development of unique bioremediation strategies to rehabilitate the water quality in and around industrial zones. In addition to green engineering, the BioFoundry is also pursues medical biotechnology research, and we are working extensively on infectious disease drug discovery, drug delivery and tissue engineering. Our group actively collaborates with local start-ups, industry, academic groups and medical research laboratories, and our work is fostering innovation in a strategic domain for Canada.
- V. G. Yadav, “Unraveling the multispecificity and catalytic promiscuity of taxadiene monooxygenase”, Journal of Molecular Catalysis B: Enzymatic, in press (2014)
- V. G. Yadav, “Biosynthonics: Charting the future role of biocatalysis & metabolic engineering in drug discovery”, Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, advanced online publication, DOI: 10.1021/ie500329d (2014)
- V. G. Yadav & G. Stephanopoulos, “Microbial metabolic engineering: The ultimate paradigm for continuous pharmaceutical manufacturing”, ChemSusChem, 7(7), 1847-1853 (2014)
- V. G. Yadav, “Combining metabolic pathway design and retrosynthetic planning for the design of a novel semisynthetic manufacturing scheme for paclitaxel”, Organic Process Research & Development, 18(6), 816-826 (2014)
- V. G. Yadav, “Winning the drug lottery”, The Biochemist, 34(4), 32-35 (2012)
- V. G. Yadav*, M. de Mey*, C. G. Lim, P. K. Ajikumar & G. Stephanopoulos, “The future of metabolic engineering & synthetic biology: Towards a systematic practice”, Metabolic Engineering, 14(3), 233-241 (2012)
- V. G. Yadav, “Biosynthonics For Drug Discovery”, Taylor & Francis, to be published in December 2014
- V. G. Yadav & G. D. Yadav (co-editors), “Organocatalysis in the Fine & Specialty Chemicals Industry”, Taylor & Francis, to be published in June 2015
A teacher, much like a football coach, must appeal to the sensibilities of his or her students. He must instill in them the spirit of achieving the impossible while keeping their feet firmly grounded in fundamentals. I was fortunate to have been instructed by excellent teachers. My approach to teaching has been inspired by these great individuals and I hope to pass on the favor to a new generation of chemical engineers.