- Drew Endy, Ph.D.
- David Singh Grewal, Ph.D.
- Richard A. Johnson
- Thane Kreiner, Ph.D.
- Natalie Kuldell, Ph.D.
- Jack D. Newman, Ph.D.
- Pamela Silver, Ph.D.
- Mark A. Fischer
Founding Directors, Emeritus
- Tom Knight, Ph.D.
- Randy Rettberg
Drew Endy, Ph.D., Board President
Drew Endy is one of the leaders in the field of synthetic biology. His work continues to shape and drive the development of the field, both in terms of the creation of BioBrick™ standard parts but also in terms of the human side of the field. The BioBricks Foundation was created by Endy and several close colleagues who are also scientific leaders in the synbio field.
Endy earned degrees in civil, environmental, and biochemical engineering at Lehigh and Dartmouth. He studied genetics and microbiology as a postdoc at UT Austin and UW Madison. From 1998 through 2001 he helped to start the Molecular Sciences Institute, an independent not-for-profit biological research lab in Berkeley, CA. In 2002, he started a group as a fellow in the Department of Biology and the Biological Engineering Division at MIT; he joined the MIT faculty in 2004.
Drew co-founded the MIT Synthetic Biology working group and the Registry of Standard Biological Parts, and organized the First International Conference on Synthetic Biology. With colleagues he taught the 2003 and 2004 MIT Synthetic Biology labs that led to the organization of iGEM, the international Genetically Engineered Machine competition. In 2005 Drew co-founded the BioBricks Foundation.
Drew’s research interests are the engineering of integrated biological systems and error detection and correction in reproducing machines.
David Singh Grewal, Ph.D.
David Singh Grewal is an Associate Professor of Law at Yale Law School, and a former Junior Fellow of the Harvard University Society of Fellows. His research and teaching focuses on international trade law, intellectual property law and biotechnology, and law and economics. His first book, Network Power: The Social Dynamics of Globalization, was published by Yale University Press in 2008. His second book, The Invention of the Economy: A History of Economic Thought will be published by Harvard University Press in 2012. He is a Faculty Fellow of the Information Society Project at Yale Law School. He holds B.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Harvard University and a J.D. from Yale Law School.
Richard A. Johnson
Richard A. Johnson retired as a senior partner after 30 years in Arnold & Porter LLP‘s Washington, DC office, but he continues an active practice as senior counsel. He focuses his practice on: legal and regulatory issues related to research and innovation.
Johnson also is engaged in broader policy issues that focus on: strategic policy issues related to innovation, the globalization of research and development, intellectual property policy, technology standards, knowledge markets, intellectual assets for value creation, and public-private partnerships; the internationalization of the research university and public-private research networks; and international health, eco-innovation (energy/environment), nanotechnology, and science policies.
In addition to receiving his Juris Doctor degree from the Yale Law School where he was Editor of the Yale Law Journal, he received his Master’s degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) where he was a National Science Foundation National Fellow and his undergraduate degree with Highest Honors from Brown University. Johnson serves as the Chairman or Vice-Chairman of four Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)/ Business and Industry Advisory Committee to the OECD Committees and Task Forces: Biotechnology and Health Innovation, Nanotechnology, Intellectual Property, and Technology Innovation; Chairs the US Council for International Business Biotechnology Committee; and Co-Chairs the United States Council for International Business Nanotechnology Task Force.
He also is a member of the MIT Corporation Visiting Committee, Brown’s Advisory Council on Biology and Medicine, and several advisory groups exploring new approaches to university-industry-government relationships and to innovation and translational research. He participates on several advisory groups at the National Academy of Sciences, and serves as Co-Chair of the new National Academies’ project on synthetic biology. Mr. Johnson also participates on World Bank innovation initiatives and US State Department international science projects.
Thane Kreiner, Ph.D.
Thane Kreiner, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Center for Science, Technology, and Society at Santa Clara University. The Center promotes the use of science and technology to benefit underserved populations worldwide. Its signature Global Social Benefit Incubator program has supported more than 140 socially-minded entrepreneurs build sustainable and scalable ventures that deliver essential goods and services to base of pyramid markets. Thane was formerly Founder, President, and CEO of PhyloTech, Inc., (now Second Genome), which conducts comprehensive microbial community analysis for environmental and human health applications. He was Founder, President and CEO of Presage Biosciences, Inc., a Seattle-based company dedicated to bringing better cancer drugs to market. Thane was the start-up President & CEO for iZumi Bio, Inc. (now iPierian), a regenerative medicine venture based on the break-through iPSc (induced pluripotent stem cell) technology.
Prior to his efforts as a “parallel entrepreneur”, Thane spent 14 years in various senior leadership roles at Affymetrix, Inc., which pioneered the DNA chip industry. Thane also currently serves on the Board of Directors for the BioBricks Foundation and the FDA Innovations Entrepreneurs in Residence program. Thane earned his MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business; his PhD in Neurosciences from Stanford University School of Medicine; and his BS in Chemistry from the University of Texas, Austin.
Natalie Kuldell, Ph.D.
Dr. Natalie Kuldell teaches in the Department of Biological Engineering at MIT. She develops discovery-based curricula drawn from the current literature to engage undergraduate students in structured, reasonably authentic laboratory and project-based experiences. She is also the director of a web-based resource called BioBuilder.org that offers animations, classroom/lab activities and online forums to teach synthetic biology in late high school/early college settings. She completed her doctoral and post-doctoral work at Harvard Medical School, and taught at Wellesley College before joining the faculty at MIT.
Jack D. Newman, Ph.D.
Jack D. Newman, Ph.D. is Co-Founder and Senior Vice President of Research, Amyris Biotechnologies. Newman co-founded Amyris with over a decade of experience researching bacterial physiology and genetics. In addition to publishing in leading molecular biology and biotechnology journals, Newman co-authored the groundbreaking work underlying the technology of microbial terpene production.
Newman received his doctorate from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, in the field of microbial physiology and gene regulation, and a B.A. in molecular and cellular biology from the University of California, Berkeley. Amyris is building an integrated renewable products company. Founded in 2003 and based in Emeryville, CA, Amyris is using breakthrough science and an innovative business model to address some of our planet’s most daunting problems. Amyris first developed their technology under a non-profit initiative to provide a reliable and affordable source of artemisinin, a highly effective anti-malarial therapeutic. They are now applying their industrial synthetic biology platform to provide alternatives to a broad range of petroleum-sourced products.
Pamela Silver, Ph.D.
Pamela Silver, Ph.D., currently researches the logical engineering of biology and the use of genomics, genetics, and cell-based screens in the study of diseases and drug action. She is one of the founders of the new area of synthetic biology, where she is building cell-based machines, developing protein-based logic for design of novel therapeutics, and engineering cells as sources of bio-energy and optimization of carbon dioxide fixation.
Silver, Professor of Systems Biology at Harvard Medical School, received her B.S. in Chemistry and Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of California. She was a Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard University, where she was a Fellow of the American Cancer Society and The Medical Foundation. Subsequently, she was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Molecular Biology at Princeton University. In 2004, she became one of the first members of the Department of Systems Biology at Harvard Medical School and the first Director of the Harvard University Ph.D. Program in Systems Biology.
Her work was recognized by an Innovation Award at BIO2007 and has been funded by grants from the NIH, DoD, NSF, Novartis, Merck, and The Keck Foundation. She currently holds an NIH MERIT award. She also initiated and co-directs the Harvard undergraduate team for the International Genetically Engineered Machines Competition (iGEM).
Mark A. Fischer, Assistant Clerk to the Board
Mark A. Fischer’s law practice is focused on solving problems and making deals for innovative companies, institutions and individuals. Mr. Fischer’s clients are typically in the creative industries such as new media, social networking, music, interactive entertainment, information technology, software, television and publishing. He has particular experience in U.S. and international copyright, licensing, copyright litigation, arbitration, open source, privacy and trademarks. He has a growing client base in the biotechnology and medical industries.
Mr. Fischer teaches Advanced Copyright at Suffolk University Law School and has previously served as an adjunct faculty member, teaching entertainment law and IP courses, at Berklee College of Music, Boston College Law School, Northeastern University School of Law and New England School of Law. Mr. Fischer is a 1980 graduate of Boston College Law School and a magna cum laude graduate of Emerson College.
Tom Knight, Ph.D., Founding Director, Emeritus
Tom Knight is a Senior Research Scientist at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. Tom is well-known for numerous seminal contributions to electrical engineering and computer science. He has over 30 patents and has started several companies including Symbolics, Exa, Polychip, Tenedos, Silicon Spice, High Speed Solutions, Permabit, Microdisplay, and Scalable Display Technologies.
Considered by most to be a father of the field of synthetic biology, Tom Knight co-launched the Registry of Standard Biological Parts and the iGEM competition. He also invented the BioBrick™ standard for physical composition of genetic parts that underpins the Registry and iGEM competition.
Randy Rettberg, Founding Director, Emeritus
Randy Rettberg is a principal research engineer in biological engineering division at MIT. Rettberg is staunch evangelist for synthetic biology. An engineer by training, he worked for years at Internet pioneer BBN (now Genuity), later moved to Sun Microsystems, where he was CTO for storage systems, and then came to MIT.
Randy is coordinator of the International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition. IGEM is the premiere undergraduate Synthetic Biology competition, started at MIT in 2003 by Rettberg, Tom Knight, and Drew Endy, and now drawing 180 student teams who use existing and newly created BioBrick™ parts to build biological systems and operate them in living cells.
Rettberg is also the manager of the Registry of Standard Biological Parts, a continuously growing collection of genetic parts that can be mixed and matched to build synthetic biology devices and systems. Founded in 2003 at MIT, the Registry is part of the Synthetic Biology community’s efforts to make biology easier to engineer. It provides a resource of available genetic parts to iGEM teams and academic labs.