Laboratory Director Steve Chu made the announcement this morning that Dr. Keasling would succeed Graham Fleming, who founded the division in 1997. Fleming recently became the Lab’s Deputy Director, and is also the UC Berkeley Director of QB3, the California Institute for Quantitative Biomedical Research.
A professor of both Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering, Jay Keasling joined the Physical Biosciences Division at Lawrence Berkeley Lab in April 2002. The following summer he became head of the division’s Synthetic Biology Department, the world’s first such department in a major scientific research institute.
Keasling is well known for his research into genetically engineered bacteria that can cheaply synthesize and mass-produce therapeutic drugs, and has recently been involved in two major achievements: a $42.6 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to take to production his simple and much less expensive means of making a potent anti-malarial drug, soon followed by a landmark agreement with the Samoan government to isolate the gene for prostratin, a chemical compound contained in the mamala tree that holds enormous therapeutic potential as an anti-AIDS drug.
“I am excited about the opportunity to lead the division,” said Keasling. “I have very large shoes to fill. I look forward to working with the excellent scientists in PBD to build research collaborations within the division and with other divisions at LBNL to tackle some of the grand challenges facing our society, particularly those in the area of renewable energy, all the while doing the first-class science for which this Division is famous.” Read the full announcement