News, trends, and stories from the synthetic biology industry

Hi all,

It’s been a big week for synthetic biology!

President-elect Joe Biden signaled that science will assume a prominent role in his administration. Last week, he announced a plan to make the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy a Cabinet-level agency. Renowned geneticist Eric Lander, best known for his work in helping map the human genome and for founding the Broad Institute, has been tapped to head the agency.

The incoming President has also tapped MIT Vice President for Research Maria Zuber and Nobel chemistry laureate Frances Arnold to be co-chairs of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

Eric Lander, Frances Arnold, and Maria Zuber. Credit: Biden-Harris Transition (Lander), Caltech (Arnold), Bryce Vickmark (Zuber) C&EN

Biden has been very clear about what he hopes to achieve creating this new agency. In an open letter to Lander following his nomination, Biden laid out the five key scientific policy questions for the new agency as well as an overarching goal to “reinvigorate our national science and technology strategy” over the next 75 years. The letter specifically mentions synthetic biology as a tool for job creation, equity, and national security, possibly the first time a US President has recognized synthetic biology in such a public manner.

Arnold’s inclusion as a scientific advisor to the President is another sign of the new administration’s confidence in bioengineering. Arnold’s Nobel Prize honored her pioneering work in directed enzyme evolution which leverages nature’s evolutionary capabilities to produce enzymes with specific functions. Iterations of Arnold’s work are now used across a diversity of sectors, from biofuels to synthesizing pharmaceuticals.

If all indications are correct, biology and biotech will play increasingly prominent roles in US policy. For years, activists, voters, and scientists have been working to place more scientific experts in high-level government positions. Lander, Arnold, and Zuber fulfill part of this dream. Now these pre-eminent scientists have the power to help restore the United States as a global scientific leader. And with two biologists, Lander and Arnold, as part of the President’s advisory team, this new era bodes well for synthetic biology innovation and the bioeconomy.

In funding news:

Have a great week,


Latest News

New videos show RNA as it’s never been seen (Northwestern University)

Codexis introduces improved enzymes to further enhance Tate & Lyle’s stevia and allulose production (Press release)

LabCentral launches “LabCentral Ignite” – new initiative to advance life sciences innovation (Press release)

Scientists grew living functional materials from kombucha cultures (Nature Bioengineering)

What is a Bio Platform for? (a16z)

Twist Bioscience begins shipping of synthetic RNA controls for UK variant strain of SARS-CoV-2 (Press release)

Newly studied proteins expand CRISPR's editing range (Scientific American)

Axol Bioscience strengthens commercial leadership team with key appointments (Press release)

Benchling doubles annual recurring revenue (ARR) for fourth straight year amid COVID-19 pandemic (Press release)

Digital information written directly into cells’ genomes using CRISPR (C&EN)

One step closer to an at-home, rapid COVID-19 test (University of Pennsylvania)

GenScript submits application with FDA for use of cPass™ SARS-CoV-2 neutralization antibody test in convalescent plasma screening (Press release)

Scientists ‘program’ living bacteria to store data (Science Magazine)

Protera strengthens board with appointment of Dr. Oswaldo da Costa e Silva as Non-Executive Director (Press release)

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