Sang Yup Lee is a biochemical engineer recognized for his work on establishing systems metabolic engineering for the bio-based production of chemicals and materials. He is well known for the development of microbial strains and bioprocess for the fermentative production of many chemicals including polylactic acid, succinic acid, gasoline, and diamines, among others. Lee was born in Seoul, and graduated from Seoul National University and Northwestern University with B.S. and Ph.D. degrees in chemical engineering, respectively. He is Distinguished Professor at Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), and is Dean of KAIST Institutes. He received numerous awards, including the National Order of Merit, National Science Medal, Ho-Am Prize and POSCO TJ Park Prize. He is currently fellow of Korean Academy of Science and Technology, National Academy of Engineering of Korea, American Academy of Microbiology, American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering, American Institute of Chemical Engineers, and the World Academy of Sciences. He is also foreign associate of National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Engineering, USA. He is Co-Chair of Global Future Council on Biotechnology at the World Economic Forum. He is a member of the Presidential Advisory Council on Science and Technology of Korea.

Research Interests

Sang Yup Lee's laboratory is interested in metabolic engineering of microorganisms for the production of chemicals and materials, either natural or non-natural, from renewable non-food biomass. In particular, they established systems metabolic engineering that integrates systems biology, synthetic biology and evolutionary engineering with traditional metabolic engineering. They have developed a number of platform metabolic engineering strategies including computational algorithms for target identification and synthetic small RNA-based genome-wide metabolic engineering tool. They developed a highly efficient succinic acid producing bioprocess based on a rumen bacterium, and developed for the first time bioprocesses for fermentative production of gasoline, polylactic acid, poly (lactate-co-glycolate), terephthalic acid, diamines for engineering plastics, among others. They have also been interested in production of various pharmaceutical proteins and material proteins such as ultra high Mw spider silk protein. They have also been active in studying systems biology of human cellular network, pathogenic microorganisms, and also traditional oriental medicine. They also developed diagnostic systems for pathogens and human diseases, and are working on human systems biology. Lee also runs a scientific section on new bioactive compounds at DTU NNF Center for Biosustainability, Denmark, where his team works on the discovery and metabolic engineering of antibiotics and functional natural compounds.

Membership Type

International Member

Election Year


Primary Section

Section 31: Engineering Sciences

Secondary Section

Section 44: Microbial Biology