The emerging science of Synthetic Biology could become the defining technology of the next century, changing the world as much as the automobile and computers did before it.
So what is Synthetic Biology? It's an approach to creating new organisms that fulfill specific functions, using nature as a manufacturing platform and DNA as the raw material. To date, scientists have created goats making spider silk in their milk (it's five times stronger than steel), salmon that grow twice as fast as normal, and bacteria that produce antimalarial drugs and biodiesel. Each invention could radically increase the supply of these vital products.
Synthetic Biologists collaborate around the world, using over 5,000 DNA sequences, called BioBricks™, now available online in an open-source database. Crowdsourcing the work means experiments that used to take years now take weeks, constantly redefining what's possible.
As the science evolves — it is still in a very early, experimental phase — Synthetic Biology could spawn new thinking, new questions, new possibilities, and amazing new opportunities.
Meet the analyst
Robert W. Chan, CFA
Robert Chan is a research analyst for Fidelity Investments. He joined the firm in 2004 and currently follows the pharmaceutical, health care, and insurance sectors for the Fixed Income Division. Previously, he covered technology and the automotive industries.
Before joining Fidelity, Mr. Chan was with Cambridge Strategic Management Group, where he advised private equity funds on due diligence engagements. Mr. Chan started his career as an investment banking analyst at Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, which was acquired by Credit Suisse.
Mr. Chan’s initial investment interest in life science was sparked by his undergraduate research at MIT Lincoln Laboratory, where he developed a cancer diagnostic technology by applying satellite imaging techniques to cancer metastasis – an innovation for which he received a U.S. patent and commercial interest. Mr. Chan is fascinated by the investing potential of synthetic biology because it similarly integrates unrelated disciplines together to reveal undiscovered investment opportunities.
Mr. Chan earned a bachelor of science degree in biology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a master of business administration degree from the Haas School of Business at the University of California Berkeley. He is also a CFA charterholder.
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Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues
CBS 60 Minutes:
Craig Venter — Designing Life
Synthetic Biology Explained
Primer Funded by Australian Govt
Synthetic Biology: Science, Business, and Policy
By Lewis D. Solomon
The Emergence of Life: From Chemical Origins to Synthetic Biology
By Pier Luigi Luisi