Membership

Prof. Drew Endy, PhD - Senior Scientific Advisor

Professor Endy serves as Associate Chair of Education in Bioengineering. His research teams pioneered amplifying genetic logic, rewritable DNA data storage, reliably-reuseable standard biological parts, and genome refactoring. Drew helped launch the new undergraduate majors in bioengineering at both MIT and Stanford; he also co-founded the iGEM competition, a global genetic engineering “olympics” now engaging thousands of students annually (igem.org). In 2013 the White House recognized Drew for his work on open-source biotechnology and, more recently, he received an honorary doctorate from the Technische Universiteit Delft.

Dr. Talkmore Maruta PhD, Senior Biosafety and Biosecurity Officer with Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC).

Dr Maruta is a Public Health Medical Laboratory Scientist with a BSc (Hons) Degree in Medical Laboratory Sciences, Masters in Public Health (MPH), Masters Business Administration (MBA) and PhD in Public Health and currently studying for a Masters in International Affairs and Diplomacy. He has regional and international experience in laboratory system strengthening, disease surveillance and epidemic preparedness and response. He contributed significantly in the development and implementation of two flagship programs of Strengthening Laboratory Management Towards Accreditation (SLMTA) and WHO/AFRO Strengthening Laboratory Quality Management Towards Accreditation (SLIPTA) programs that have been implemented in over 1300 laboratories in 55 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Oceania and helped over 200 laboratories attain accreditation to international standards. His experience spans the Africa, Caribbean and South East Asia Regions where he has closely worked with over 30 Ministries of Health while working with renowned organizations like Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND), African Society for Laboratory Medicine (ASLM) and the East Central and Southern Africa Health Community (ECSA-HC).

Prof. Karmella Haynes, PhD - Senior Scientific Advisor

Karmella Haynes, an Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Emory University, leads a lab (https://khayneslab.wordpress.com/) that uses the features of chromatin to engineer proteins that control gene expression in human cells. During her previous faculty position at ASU (2011 – 2018), she was Chair of the first SEED conference to be held in Arizona. After joining Emory in 2018, she launched the NSF-funded annual AfroBiotech conference. She is a SynBioLEAP leadership development alum, a founder of the Cold Spring Harbor Summer Course on Synthetic Biology, a member of the national Engineering Biology Research Consortium (EBRC), and Judge Emeritus for the annual International Genetically Engineered Machines (iGEM) competition. SUPPORT: Prof. Karmella is interested in international mentorship of iGEM teams within the continent of Africa, and in advising student collaborations between African-American students in America (who lack global connections) and students in Africa.

Andrew Hessel, PhD - Senior Scientific Advisor

Andrew Hessel is the president of Humane Genomics, an early-stage company developing synthetic viruses for animal and human health. He is also the co-founder and chairman of the Center of Excellence for Engineering Biology and the Genome Project-write, the international scientific effort to engineer large genomes, including the human genome. He is a former distinguished research scientist at Autodesk Life Sciences. His goal is to help people better understand and use living systems to meet the needs of humanity.

Prof. Anne S. Meyers, PhD - Senior Scientific Advisor

Anne Meyer is an Associate Professor of Biology at the University of Rochester and also holds an appointment in Biomedical Engineering. Her laboratory uses tools of synthetic biology to produce tunable biomaterials, including tough nacre-inspired structural materials, and develop new tools for 3D patterning of bacteria. She has served as the lead advisor for six iGEM teams, which have won 25 awards including the 2015 Grand Prize.

Dr. John Cumbers, PhD - Board Member

Former NASA bioengineer, Dr. John Cumbers is the founder and CEO of SynBioBeta, a leading research community using synthetic biology to build treatments and testing for COVID-19. He is the author of “What’s Your Biostrategy?“, on the ways biology will transform industry and our daily lives, and is a senior contributor for Forbes.com where he writes about biomanufacturing and synthetic biology.

Prof. Matthew CHANG, PhD - Board Member

Matthew Chang is Director of the Singapore Consortium for Synthetic Biology, Wilmar-NUS Corporate Laboratory and NUS Synthetic Biology for Clinical and Technological Innovation, and Associate Professor in Biochemistry and Synthetic Biology in the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine at the National University of Singapore. His research focuses on studying the engineering of biology to develop autonomous, programmable cells for grand challenge applications, supported by local and international organizations, and industry. In particular, he has significantly contributed to the development of microbial cells programmed to perform targeted biological functionalities, with over 100 publications and patents.

Dr. Konstantinos (Kostas) Vavitsas , PhD - Board Member

Dr. Konstantinos (Kostas) Vavitsas is the Manager of the Singapore Consortium for Synthetic Biology. He received his PhD in Biotechnology from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, and has held research positions at the University of Queensland, Australia, and the University of Athens, Greece. He is a prolific synthetic biology writer, and he was a steering committee member of the European Synthetic Biology Society (EUSynBioS) and a board member of Synthetic Biology Australasia.

Prof. Susan Rosser, PhD - Scientific Advisor

Professor Susan Rosser is Chair of Synthetic Biology at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. She also holds a Royal Academy of Engineering Chair in Emerging Technologies. She is Director of the UK’s Centre for Mammalian Synthetic Biology and Co-Director of the Edinburgh Genome Foundry. She is a member of the Scottish Industrial Biotechnology Development Group and a previous member of the Scottish Science Advisory Council. Susan’s work focuses on developing tools for synthetic biology approaches for pathway and genome engineering in bacteria, yeast and mammalian cell systems.

Prof. Chris French, PhD - Scientific Advisor

Chris French studied Biotechnology and Bioprocess Engineering at Massey University, New Zealand, then worked at the New Zealand Dairy Research Institute before undertaking a Ph.D. at the Institute of Biotechnology, University of Cambridge. He is now Professor of Microbial Biotechnology in the School of Biological Sciences, University of Edinburgh, as well as a member of the Zhejiang University-University of Edinburgh Joint Research Centre for Engineering Biology (JRCEB) in Haining, China. His laboratory (frenchlab.bio.ed.ac.uk) conducts research in DNA assembly as well as applications of synthetic biology in biomass processing and biosensors.

Dr. Liz Fletcher, PhD - Operations Advisor

Dr. Liz Fletcher is the Manager of the UK Centre for Mammalian Synthetic Biology. She has had a career in the life sciences sector in roles varying from postdoctoral research, senior scientist in the biotech industry, science and business writer and editor, technology transfer in the university and NHS, future technology horizon scanning and economic development. Liz has a Degree in Pharmacology, PhD in Neuropharmacology from the University of London and a Diploma in Science Communication.

James Diggans, PhD - Board Member

James Diggans is a Distinguished Scientist, Bioinformatics and Biosecurity, at Twist Bioscience, a DNA synthesis company based in San Francisco, CA. He holds a PhD from George Mason University in Computational Biology and Bioinformatics and has worked in target discovery, molecular diagnostic development and biodefense including leading the computational biology group at the MITRE Corporation.

Dr. Venkata Vamsi B Yallapragada , PhD - Board Member

Dr. Venkata Vamsi B Yallapragada is an interdisciplinary researcher with academic background in synthetic biology, biophotonics and hardware for biomedical applications. He has special interests in bridging the gap between technology and life sciences. In 2015, he received a national award from Indian National Academy of Engineering (INAE) for his invention of a DNA based cryptographic pen. This milestone shaped his career in interdisciplinary science. He received his Master’s degree and Ph.D. from University College Cork. During his Ph.D., he gained expertise in computationally designing and modeling proteins with special optical imaging properties for targeted therapeutic and diagnostic applications. He has experience in working with teams specializing in artificial intelligence (AI), Machine learning, virtual reality (VR), photonics and hardware. He enjoys exploring ideas focusing on technology deployment into life science applications.

Dr. Deepak Balaji Thimiri Govindaraj, PhD - Scientific Advisor

Dr. Deepak Balaji Thimiri Govindaraj is a Centre Manager of CSIR Synthetic Biology Centre. Deepak Balaji is a chemical engineer by training and has worked on nanobiotechnology, industrial synthetic biology and drug screening for precision medicine. During his PhD in KU Leuven Belgium, Deepak worked on Nanobiotechnology methods for cell surface proteomics. The work resulted in 2 International Patent. Deepak then went to EMBL for a Marie Curie Fellow where he designed synthetic baculovirus genome for recombinant protein expression. The work is internationally patented and sold in the market as a product by Geneva Biotech, Switzerland. As a Senior Scientist at Oslo University hospital Norway, Deepak established the drug sensitivity screening platform for blood cancer. As a Centre Manager at CSIR Pretoria, Deepak is currently establishing Synthetic Biology and Precision Medicine programs.