Press Room

Berkeley Innovators Elected to National Academy of Inventors

Thursday, December 18th 2014

Biochemist Jennifer Doudna and chemical engineer Jay Keasling were among 170 new fellows recognized for outstanding contributions to innovation in patents and licensing, innovative discovery and technology, significant impact on society, and support and enhancement of innovation. Doudna, PBD faculty biochemist and professor of molecular and cell biology at UC Berkeley, co-invented a precision DNA editing technique that has revolutionized genetic research and gene therapy. Called CRISPR/Cas9, it is already the basis of several startups, including Caribou Biosciences Inc., co-founded by Doudna. Keasling, a pioneer in synthetic biology, is associate laboratory director for Biosciences and CEO of the Joint BioEnergy Institute in Emeryville. His inventions resulted in engineered microbes to produce the world’s first low-cost antimalarial drug. He has co-founded 4 companies, including Amyris Biotechnologies, the company that optimized the modified biosynthetic process for producing artemisinic acid, the basis for the drug.

CellScope, Inc., Co-Founder Shares Her Experiences in Developing New Home Product

Wednesday, December 17th 2014

A recent New York Times series on Women in Tech features Amy Sheng, co-founder of CellScope, Inc., a company that was spun out of the laboratory of PBD Deputy for Science, Daniel Fletcher. In January, CellScope, Inc., is releasing the Oto HOMETM in California, a cell phone attachment that includes an otoscope to allow parents to take a video of a child’s middle ear that can be sent to the doctor for diagnosis of infection. In this video and blog story, Sheng shares the inspiration for this product and describes the development process. Sheng’s experiences underscore her belief that it is important to have more female scientists and engineers designing products to bring the results of their perspectives to the marketplace. Learn more about the myriad applications of this technology that turns the camera of a mobile phone or tablet computer into a high-quality light microscope.

Sweet Smell of Success: JBEI Researchers Boost Methyl Ketone Production in E. coli

Wednesday, December 3rd 2014

Two years ago, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) engineered Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria to convert glucose into significant quantities of methyl ketones, a class of chemical compounds primarily used for fragrances and flavors, but highly promising as clean, green, and renewable blending agents for diesel fuel. Now, after further genetic modifications, they have managed to dramatically boost the E.coli’s methyl ketone production 160-fold.

The study was led by microbiologist Harry Beller, head of the Biofuels Pathways department of JBEI’sFuels Synthesis Division. Beller is the corresponding author of a paper describing this work in the journal Metabolic Engineering. Co-authors are Ee-Been Goh, Edward Baidoo, Helcio Burd, Taek Soon Lee and Jay Keasling.


Two Berkeley Lab Scientists Named AAAS Fellows

Monday, November 24th 2014

Chemist Heinz Frei of the Physical Biosciences Division and climate scientist Bill Collins of the Earth Sciences Division have been named Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) for 2014. Frei was recognized for “distinguished contributions to the understanding of photochemical reactions, and, in particular, for the advancement of robust catalysts for solar energy conversion.” Collins was recognized for “distinguished contributions to the field of climate science through fundamental research on interactions among sunlight, heat, the coupled climate system, and global environmental change.”