Since the mapping of the human genome in 2003, great anticipation was created both in the minds of the public, as well as within the medical community in respect to the creation of new treatments for disease - if not the eradication of disease altogether - based upon the newfound knowledge of the 'blueprint' of life. Although this anticipation has not yet been fulfilled, a number of research endeavors inside and outside of academia have begun to yield results: namely, those research projects connected to the treatment of disease and, surprisingly, within the context of the development of alternative fuels, fibers and plastics. For instance, in August 2012, Nature published findings by deCODE Genetics of Iceland that provides insight into the genetic underpinnings of autism and schizophrenia, resulting from a genetic mutation linked to the age of the father. Furthermore, in respect to heavy industry, chemical companies, such as DuPont, have come to rely on "naturally occurring sugars from crops" to underpin the industrial chemicals used in the creation of fabrics, carpet and other such products. With these examples in mind, this panel will ask: (a.) has synthetic biology finally found a footing as a mature science that can yield the dramatic discoveries promised to alter humanity? and (b.) if so, what are those new discoveries and how far away are we from cures to our most pressing health needs?
Dr. Yemi Adesokan
Mr. Yemi Adesokan is a scientist and entrepreneur with several years of experience in the development and optimization of multiplex capture and high throughput genome sequencing technologies.
As a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School, he pioneered the development and implementation of the BioweatherMap project, an initiative aimed towards the collection and use of real-time assays to track and limit viral outbreaks and antibiotic resistance in the developing world. He also has extensive experience as an industry consultant providing strategic advisory services to Fortune 500 life science companies.
Mr. Adesokan holds a BS in Biology from the University of Houston and a Ph.D in Theoretical Chemistry from the University of California, Irvine. In 2011, Yemi was included in the TR35, MIT Technology Review's annual list of 35 top innovators under the age of 35.
Dr. William A. Haseltine
William A. Haseltine, PhD has an active career in both science and business.
He was a professor at Harvard Medical School from 1976-1993 where he was founder and the Chair of two academic research departments. He is well known for his pioneering work on cancer, HIV/AIDS and genomics.
He has authored more than 200 manuscripts in peer reviewed journals and is the author of several books. He is the founder of human Genome Sciences, Inc and served as the Chairman and CEO of The Company until 2004. He is also the founder of eight other successful biotechnology companies. He serves as an advisor to CMEA, a venture capital company, the reliance Innovation Council, India and to several biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies. William A. Haseltine is currently the President is of the Haseltine Foundation for Medical Sciences and the Arts, a foundation that supports access to high quality health for the poor and middle class of developing countries, primarily India, the foundation also fosters a dialog between sciences and the arts. He is the Chairman of Haseltine Global Health, LLC, a company dedicated to creating new and more efficient means to develop new life saving drugs and medical devices. He is an Adjunct Professor at The Scripps Institute for Medical Research and the Institute of Chemical Engineering the University of Mumbai, India. He is also active in the field of renewable energy. He is Chairman of the Board of the Berkeley Center for Synthetic Biology.
Dr. Haseltine is active in public service. He is Co-Chair of the President's Council of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, a member of the Advisory Board of the Global Coalition on HIV/AIDS and he is a governor of the New York Academy of Science. He is a member of the Executive Committee of the Brookings Institution, a member of both the Council on Foreign Relations and the Trilateral Commission, and a member of the Chairman's Circle of the Asia Society. He is a founder of the American freedom Campaign. He resides in Washington DC and New York City.
Dr. Ihor Lemischka
Dr. Ihor R. Lemischka is currently both the Lillian and Henry M. Stratton Professor of Gene and Cell Medicine and Director of the Black Family Stem Cell Institute at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City.
The focus of Dr. Lemischka’s research is to understand the molecular and cellular nature of the undifferentiated stem cell "states", and how such states are altered during a change in cell fate. The underlying rationale for his studies is that the complement of gene-products and their inter-relationships that exist in stem cells accounts for their remarkable abilities to balance self-renewal and differentiation decision processes. He studies both adult and embryonic stem (ES) cells, primarily from the mouse, but also from the human. His work with "Hematopoietic stem cell" hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) was the first to identify their novel "Receptor tyrosine kinases" receptor tyrosine kinases and showed that HSC can rebuild all blood cell types in a mouse whose blood cells had been destroyed.
Lemischka graduated from Johns Hopkins University and earned his Ph.D in biology from MIT. He did his post-doctoral training at MIT's Whitehead Institute. Lemischka is a board member of the International Society for Stem Cell Research, the Journal of Visualized Experiments (JoVE) and the New York Stem Cell Foundation. His awards include a Damon Runyon-Walter Winchell Postdoctoral, a Leukemia Social Special Fellowship, an American Cyanamid Preceptorship Award and the DuPont Young Faculty Grant. He is a journal reviewer for Cell, Science, Nature, Nature Genetics, Nature Immunology, Nature Biotechnology, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Public Library of Science, Development, Genes & Development, Journal of Clinical Investigation and Blood.
Ms. Susan Young is the biomedicine editor for MIT's Technology Review, a magazine that identifies emerging technologies and analyzes their impact for an audience of technology and business leaders. She joined Technology Review in March 2012 to cover stories where technology stands to improve human health or advance our understanding of the human condition. She has written on stem cell therapies, cancer genomics, neural prosthetics and genetic medicines.
She earned a doctorate in molecular biology from the University of California in Berkeley in 2011, after which she studied science journalism. She has worked for the Salinas Californian newspaper, the Multiple Sclerosis Discovery Forum, and the Washington, D.C., news bureau of the scientific journal Nature.