November 15, 2006
Jay Keasling, UC Berkeley Professor of Bioengineering and Chemical Engineering, has been named the first Discover Magazine Scientist of the Year.
Keasling is a leader in synthetic biology, an emerging field which reaches beyond simple genetic engineering of organisms to a complete genomic makeover, treating genes like the interchangeable components of computer. By mixing and matching genes inside the bodies of microbes, Keasling and his colleagues hope to turn bacteria or yeast into factories for a broad range of useful products, from drugs to fuels to pesticide-eaters. The Keasling lab is currently working to develop a cheap, large-scale means of producing the effective antimalarial drug Artemisinin, currently in short supply in developing countries.
Keasling is head of the synthetic biology department and Physical Biosciences Division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and director of the Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center (SynBERC), which is headquartered at UC Berkeley but involves scientists from universities around the country.
The award was announced in the December issue of Discover Magazine. Read more online at the UC Berkeley News Center .