synthetic biology


Over $1 Billion Invested this Past Year: Synthetic Biology in 2017 with John Cumbers

What does it take to make it in synthetic biology in 2017?

Working as a bio engineer at NASA, John Cumbers founded SynBioBeta, the primary “activity hub” for the synthetic biology community. SynBioBeta will be putting on their sixth conference this year in San Francisco, along with conferences in London and Singapore. The young industry has seen a flourish of startups working on new genome engineering tools and a dizzying array of applications that include synthetic animal meat and synthetic human skin. Last month John partnered with Data Collective to launch a new seed stage fund for this space.

John is not only interested in startups. Currently writing a book with the working title, “What’s Your Bio Strategy?”, he is provoking existing companies to consider using biology as technology.

“The book is designed to be something we could take into [Apple CEO] Tim Cook’s office, and ask him what’s your bio strategy. And he says, 'I don’t have a bio strategy.' So you put the book on his desk and say give me a call if we can help you to develop one.”

When we first talked with John, he was heading up a program at NASA to develop building materials for use on Mars. Five years later, is John's number one goal in life still to settle the solar system?

Gene and Tonic: Five Reasons Your Glowing Plants Haven't Arrived Yet

Journalist Antonio Regalado over at MIT Tech Review Raised a stink this past week about the failure of The Glowing Plant project. We wanted to share a few of the additional rumors we’ve heard about why the plants won’t glow.

1. Elizabeth Holmes was the lead advisor.

2. The project has been put on hold while the organizers are in M & A talks with Monsanto.

Is Oxitec Ready to Scale as Governments Seek Options to Control the Zika Virus?

With constant news topping the headlines about the Zika virus, a synthetic biology company out of Oxford England, Oxitec, has been getting some good press. For over ten years now, Oxitec has been developing their genetically engineered mosquitos as a way to lower virus spreading mosquito populations.

When we last talked to Oxitec's CEO, Hadyn Parry, a couple years ago, they were just introducing their genetically engineered mosquitos into a small rural town in Brazil. They've now had trials in the Cayman Islands and Panama as well and received phenomenal results.

“In all of the trials, we’ve got the same result, which is that we’ve controlled the Aeges Aegypti population in a town by over 90 percent,” says Hadyn in today’s interview.

Is the recent panic over the Zika virus helping out the synthetic biology company in terms of PR and regulatory hurdles? And what threat has CRISPR, the new gene editing technology, posed for the company, both in terms of the backlash in media against gene editing and also in lowering the barrier to entry for competitors?

Hadyn says he has always embraced the PR issue head on, and is now giving 2-3 interviews some days. Does he have any suggestions for other synthetic biology companies who also face uphill PR battles?

So That Happened, The Mad Genius, and Selling SynBio

It’s a week of finding out again what we already knew. First that a nobel laureate can also be a total ***hole. And second that creative people really are crazy.

It’s also been a week for going into the future. This week Team Mendelspod attended IndieBio’s Demo Day. Twelve, mostly very young, founder/geeks pitched their new ideas for making the world a better place to a room of investors in downtown San Francisco. We saw some amazing technology, but the real question seems to be, how will they sell these new synthetic biology products?!?.

Mendelspod is avaliable on iTunes

#ScienceHack with Connor Dickie, Synbiota

Guest:

Connor Dickie, CEO, Synbiota Bio and Contact Info

Listen (5:13) Has open science really taken off in the life sciences?

Listen (4:58) #ScienceHack

Listen (5:50) A pricey compound

Listen (5:17) How does it scale?

In March of this year at the South By Southwest Festival in Austin Texas, an open science website took home the first prize in the Innovative Technologies category.

Synbiota is an online platform of tools for researchers anywhere in the world to collaborate on synthetic biology projects. This year the platform has launched a new project called #ScienceHack. Here to tell us about the project is Synbiota’s CEO and co-founder, Connor Dickie.

Podcast Sponsor: Integrated DNA Technologies - providing custom double-stranded gBlocks Gene Fragments of up to 2 kb, for easy gene construction.

George Church at 60

Guest:

George Church, Professor of Genetics, Harvard Medical School 

Bio and Contact Info

Listen (6:11) Church's Law

Listen (6:45) Colbert, Der Spiegel and Regenesis

Listen (2:49) Do you have a hobby?

Listen (8:22) The promise of 3D sequencing

Listen (4:42) Is long reads the NGS story of the year?

Listen (6:02) Have you heard any good arguments against GMOs?

Listen (5:46) How much wet lab vs. coding for the new biologist?

Listen (2:57) 60th Birthday Bash

If we have celebrities in the life science industry, George Church of Harvard is one of them. Author, professor, entrepreneur, advisor—the list goes on and on. One of the special things about George is his commitment to advocate for science to the larger community. With everything else he has going on, he makes time to talk on programs like ours.

We launched Mendelspod with a George Church interview. Three years later, it’s a treat to have him on again to talk about his work, career, philosophy, and take a few questions from the audience.

Thanks to IDT for underwriting this show.

Podcast Sponsor: Integrated DNA Technologies - providing custom double-stranded gBlocks Gene Fragments of up to 2 kb, for easy gene construction.

Window on the Life Science Industry: A Conversation with Trey Martin, IDT

Guest:

Martin Trey, COO, Integrated DNA Technologies

Bio and Contact Info

Listen (4:32) The oligo factory

Listen (3:30) How have you stayed relevant in the age of sequencing?

Listen (3:39) A breakthrough in oligo length

Listen (7:18) A window on the industry

Listen (4:12) Thoughts on synbio

DNA. It’s at the core of biology and the life science industry. Integrated DNA Technologies, or IDT has been making DNA for the industry for twenty five years.

Mendelspod has been working for some time now to persuade someone from IDT to come on the program and tell us about their history--how they began, why they're in Coralville, Iowa, and what important trends they're observing.

Beginning a new series entitled Beyond the Oligo, we’re joined by IDT’s Chief Operating Officer, Trey Martin, for a wide ranging discussion about the company beginnings and their unique perspective on a rapidly changing industry.

Further episodes of this series will feature some of IDT's customers-from clinical genomics to synthetic biology-who are using DNA to pioneer dramatic new advances in human health and the way we are moving forward as a species.

Podcast brought to you by: Chempetitive Group - "We love science. We love marketing. We love the idea of combining the two to make great things happen for your marketing communications."

John Cumbers Previews SynBioBeta 2013

Guest:

John Cumbers, PhD, Synthetic Biologist, NASA Ames

Bio and Contact Info

Listen (4:03) Synbio in UK

Listen (1:45) Intrexon IPO and consumer space

Listen (5:30) Crowdfunding and its discontent

Listen (2:39) GMO OMG

Listen (4:52) Trouble in the DIY space?

Listen (3:21) Resveratrol yogurt

Listen (4:06) Highlights of upcoming SynBioBeta conference

Joining us to kick off a new SynBio Series is John Cumbers, founder of SynBioBeta. Cumbers and his team puts on the annual conference for the synthetic biology community in San Francisco each year. The next one is scheduled for Nov 15, 2013. In today's show, John previews the upcoming conference and reviews some of the events of the past year: the Intrexon IPO, the crowdfunded Glowing Plants Project, and other happenings in this exciting space.

Podcast brought to you by: Chempetitive Group - "We love science. We love marketing. We love the idea of combining the two to make great things happen for your marketing communications."

Kickstarting Synbio with Antony Evans

Podcast brought to you by: Chempetitive Group - Who for more than a decade has helped science-based companies build and execute innovative marketing campaigns. "We love science. We love marketing. We love the idea of combining the two to make great things happen for your marketing communications."

Guests:

Antony Evans, Project Manager, Glowing Plants Bio and Contact Info

Listen (6:07) Glowing plants produced before

Listen (5:45) Goals of the project

Listen (9:01) Biggest hurdles on ethical and policy front

Listen (2:27) Democratizing synthetic biology

There’s a new synthetic biology project attracting a lot of attention over at kickstarter. With the title: Glowing Plants: Natural Lighting with no Electricity, the project has already over 5,000 backers and has raised over $300,000. Will this be a great way to introduce synthetic biology to the larger public and inspire others to do similar projects? Here to talk about the goal and details of Glowing Plants is project leader, Antony Evans.



New to Mendelspod?

We advance life science research, connecting people and ideas.
Register here to receive our newsletter.

or skip signup