Abstract: Recent advances in synthetic biology are transforming our capacities to make things with biology. This bio-based manufacturing technology has the potential to be most disruptive around products for which existing material supply chains result in limited access. For example, broad access to medicines and the development of new medicines has been difficult to achieve, largely due to the coupling between material supply chains and these therapeutic compounds. We are developing a biotechnology platform that will allow us to replace current supply chains for already approved medicines with stable, secure, scalable, distributed, and economical microbial fermentation. Our initial target is the opioids, an essential class of medicines for pain management and palliative care, which are currently sourced through opium poppy cultivation. In addition, we will leverage this technology to access novel compound structural space that will open up tremendous opportunity for transforming the discovery and development of new drugs over a longer-time frame.
About the Speaker: Christina D. Smolke is an Associate Professor, Associate Chair of Education, and W.M. Keck Foundation Faculty Scholar in the Department of Bioengineering and, by courtesy, Chemical Engineering at Stanford University. Christina’s research program develops foundational tools that drive transformative advances in our ability to engineering biology. For example, her group has led the development of a novel class of biological I/O devices, fundamentally changing how we interact with and program biology. Her group uses these tools to drive transformative advances in diverse areas such as cellular therapies and natural product biosynthesis and drug discovery. Christina is an inventor on over 15 patents and her research program has been honored with numerous awards, including the NIH Director’s Pioneer Award, WTN Award in Biotechnology, and TR35 Award.