Past Meetup

The industrialization of synthetic biology: Design more. Build more. Test more.

This Meetup is past

75 people went


Who: Dr. Zach Serber, Director of Biology at Amyris

Title: The industrialization of synthetic biology: Design more. Build more. Test more. Learn more.

Date: September 29,[masked]:00 PM happy hour, 7:00 PM talk

Where: UCSF Genentech Hall,[masked]th Street, San Francisco, CA


Engineering microbes to make milligram quantities of novel, non-native compounds is now relatively commonplace. Instead, reaching the titers or yields required to economically produce the compound has become the major industrial bottleneck. Achieving the cost targets can be accomplished by multiple serial rounds of strain design, building, testing, analysis and re-design. Frustratingly, it is also true that the vast majority of designs fail, either due to our wildly incomplete understanding of the microbe, or to our inability to create the intended genetic modification in a timely fashion. In order to test more designs quickly and to make faster progress, we have invented a novel platform to assemble DNA in a standard, reliable, and modular fashion. We coupled this platform with robotics and computer-aided design (CAD) to automate all the unit operations. The resulting system, which we call Automated Strain Engineering (ASE), has enabled a >100-fold increase in our ability to create new, rationally designed yeast. With this capability we are able to investigate tens of thousands of strain constructions and find combinatorial solutions that enhance the efficiency of strains producing fuels and chemicals. ASE represents a significant step in the industrialization of strain construction and has qualitatively changed the way Amyris makes progress

About the Speaker:

Dr. Zach Serber is the Director of Biology at Amyris. His current focus is reducing the time and cost of developing microbes that produce sustainable petroleum replacements. Zach received his PhD in biophysics from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) using NMR spectroscopy to examine protein conformations in living cells, an MSc in Neuroscience from the University of Edinburgh identifying novel components of the NMDA receptor complex, and a BA in biophysics from Columbia University solving structures of esterases with x-ray crystallography. He is an inventor of the platform technology employed by Amyris to rapidly assemble modular pieces of DNA. Before Amyris, Zach was a Beckman Research Fellow at Stanford University Medical School uncovering the evolutionary origins of eukaryotic phosphorylation, as well as a high school physics teacher.

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