George Church, Professor of Genetics, Harvard Medical School
Ben Lamm, Founder and CEO of Colossal Biosciences
0:00 How did you two meet?
4:50 Is this cloning?
9:30 What’s the business plan?
13:07 What will success look like?
23:50 The critics
31:10 Responses to launch
35:38 What will be your first milestone?
According to scientists, 30,000 species per year are going extinct. That’s 6 an hour, 150 per day. Up to one half of all species could be extinct by 2050.
These are facts gleaned from the website of the company Colossal, the new commercial venture launched this last September by Harvard geneticist George Church and Texas entrepreneur Ben Lamm. While the goal of the company is ostensibly to de extinct the wooly mammoth—a project which has long gone underfunded in George’s lab—the company has a much larger vision of developing new scientific tools, advancing de extinction for many species, and catapulting forward the science of conservation.
"We’re not limited to wooly mammoth genes. We can harvest all kinds of elephants, living and extinct, from all over the world and all the way back to a million years ago. And we’re not even limited to that: we can use synthetic biology to make them virus-resistant, to control their tusk length, to make them larger or taller.”
That’s George talking with Ben on today’s show about how the name of the company represents their larger project.
"We wanted to do so much more than mammoths. We felt like this problem of climate change and the loss of biodiversity was a colossal problem. So the word kept coming up over and over again. And we thought it also gave use enough breadth from a brand perspective that we could do a lot of innovation both in software and hardware tools out of the lab that Colossal encompassed our vision, the engineering, and the problem," says Ben.
How did the two meet? What will success look like for the startup? Who will their customers be? And what are the critics saying? Join us as we go behind the scenes with one of the year’s most visionary commercial ventures.