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Conagen announces formation of Scientific Advisory Board

Board includes five world-leading scientists in the fields of Synthetic Biology and Applied Molecular Biology

BEDFORD, Massachusetts, May 30, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Conagen Inc., a vertically integrated synthetic biology and fermentation company, announced today the formation of a new scientific advisory board (SAB) comprised of five thought leaders in synthetic biology, biochemistry, plant science and microbiology, all of whom are top faculty at leading universities.

The SAB will work with Conagen’s leadership while the company builds upon the best science available to deliver the highest quality products serving the business-to-business markets of nature-based non-caloric sweeteners, flavors and fragrances, nutritional products, food preservatives, and others.

“We appreciate the great contributions from our previous scientific advisors. We are honored and privileged to have the expertise of our illustrious new SAB members dedicated to advancing Conagen’s product development efforts,” said Oliver Yu, Conagen’s chief executive and chief science officer. “We’re excited to have this opportunity to work with this diverse group of world-recognized scientists. Their contributions to the advancement of science in their respective areas have been broadly celebrated and we’re looking forward to further contributions as Conagen develops new offerings and enters a new stage in our company’s growth,” added Casey Lippmeier, Conagen’s Vice President of Research and Development.

The SAB will hold its meeting in the summer, with the following members:


Pam Silver, PhD, Harvard University and Harvard Medical School

Pamela Silver is the Elliot T. and Onie H. Adams Professor of Biochemistry and Systems Biology in the Department of Systems Biology at Harvard Medical School. She is also a member of the Harvard University Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering.

Her group combines lessons from nature to the design of new organisms for both discovery and applications. She received her BS in Chemistry from the University of California, Santa Cruz and PhD in Biochemistry from the University of California, Los Angeles. She was a Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard University where she was a Fellow of the American Cancer Society and The Medical Foundation.

Her work has been recognized by an Established Investigator of the American Heart Association, a Research Scholar of the March of Dimes, an NSF Presidential Young Investigator Award, a Claudia Adams Barr Investigator, an NIH MERIT award, a Fellow of the Radcliffe Institute, top ten innovations by the World Economic Forum and election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She has served on numerous editorial boards, was the Editor of Molecular Biology of the Cell, has served on the Council of the American Society for Cell Biology and on the Committee for Women in Cell Biology, presented to members of Congress and was a co-founder of Karyopharm Therapeutics that makes novel anti-cancer drugs and other biotech companies.

Frances Arnold, PhD, California Institute of Technology

Frances H. Arnold is the Linus Pauling Professor of Chemical Engineering, Bioengineering, and Biochemistry at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).

Dr. Arnold was most recently awarded the 2018 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for her work on directed evolution of enzymes. The other half of the prize was awarded to American biochemist George P. Smith and British biochemist Gregory P. Winter for phage display. Among her previous honors, Arnold received the National Academy of Sciences Sackler Prize in Convergence Research and the Millennium Technology Prize presented by Technology Academy Finland. She was the first woman to receive the Charles Stark Draper Prize from the National Academy of Engineering. She is a member of the National Inventors Hall of Fame and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and she received the U.S. National Medal of Technology and Innovation. Arnold is one of the few people to be inducted into all three U.S. National Academies — the National Academy of Engineering, the Institute of Medicine, and the National Academy of Sciences.

Arnold earned a BS in mechanical and aerospace engineering from Princeton University and a PhD in chemical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, and she performed postdoctoral work at Berkeley and Caltech.

Eran Pichersky, PhD, University of Michigan

Eran Pichersky is the Michael M. Martin Collegiate Professor in the Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology (MCDB) at the University of Michigan.

He received his B.Sc. degree from the University of California, Berkeley in 1980, and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Davis in 1984. After doing research as a post-doctoral fellow at the Rockefeller University in New York, he has been on the faculty of the University of Michigan since 1986, serving as the first Chair of the newly created MCDB Department from 2001-2003. His awards include a Fulbright fellowship and an Alexander von Humboldt fellowship, both received in 2000, and a Guggenheim fellowship in 2015. He was elected a Fellow by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in 2012 and by the American Society of Plant Biologists in 2017. Dr. Pichersky has served on the editorial boards of several major scientific journals that cover plant research. Dr. Pichersky’s research has concentrated on identifying the myriad compounds that are found uniquely in plants, many of which are extensively used by people, with emphasis on those that impart scent and flavor. His group further elucidates how plants synthesize these compounds, and how this information can be used to enhance the production by plants of such valuable chemicals. Dr. Pichersky has authored more than 250 reports, reviews, letters and editorials in scientific publications, and is a recipient of several patents.

Joseph Jez, PhD, Washington University in St. Louis

Joseph M. Jez is the Chair and a Professor of Biology at Washington University in St. Louis and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor.

He received his B.S. in biochemistry from Penn State University (1992), a Ph.D. in biochemistry & molecular biophysics from the University of Pennsylvania (1998), and was an NIH-NRSA postdoctoral fellow at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies (1998-2001). After working as a research scientist at Kosan Biosciences (2001-2002), he started his research group at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center and moved to the Department of Biology at Washington University in 2008. He has authored more than 160 papers and received a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (2005), the Phytochemical Society of North America’s Arthur Neish Young Investigator Award (2007), and a Fulbright Senior Specialist Award (2012) and was named as Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor in 2014 and an AAAS Fellow in 2018.

Research in the Jez lab seeks to understand how environmental changes re-model biochemical pathways in plants at the molecular, cellular, and organism levels with the aim of engineering these systems to address agricultural and environmental problems. Current work in the lab employs a combination of structural biology, protein chemistry, and plant biology. He also launched the Biotech Explorers Program, which aims to introduce undergraduates to how teams in science can tackle real world problems using cross-disciplinary approaches.

Timothy Lu, PhD, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Timothy K. Lu, M.D., Ph.D. is an Associate Professor leading the Synthetic Biology Group in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and Department of Biological Engineering at MIT.

Tim received his S.B. and M.Eng. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT and completed his M.D./Ph.D. training in the Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology Program. He is a core member of the Synthetic Biology Center at MIT and Associate Member at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, and co-founder of Sample6 Technologies. He is also affiliated with the MIT CSBi Program, the MIT Microbiology Program, and the Harvard Biophysics Program.

Tim has pioneered new approaches to combat infectious diseases with synthetic biology, encoding memory in the DNA of living cells, and perform both digital and analog computation in biological systems. His group’s research focuses on engineering fundamental technologies to enable the scalable design of biological systems and on applying synthetic biology to solve medical and industrial problems. Tim is a recipient of the Henry L. and Grace Doherty Professorship, NIH New Innovator Award, Lemelson-MIT Student Prize for Invention, Army Young Investigator Award, Ellison New Scholar in Aging Award, and Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), among others.

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SOURCE Conagen Inc.



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