Recorded: 08 May 2008
Synthetic biology, I think is the next most interesting thing to me, where you are actually – I got interested in this in the seventies and it used to be called genetic engineering. We had this concept that we can move DNA from one organism to another organism, and reengineer it. Well, we are only now doing that and we today call it, like I say, synthetic biology. There’s a – you’re probably aware of the company that has engineered yeast to produce a malaria drug by fermentation. The same company is working on producing diesel fuel by fermentation and they have like fifty-thousand different drug-like molecules that they would, they know how to produce if there was a reason to produce them. So, this whole concept of designing the gene from scratch and building pathways that don’t exist in nature for the chemical production is going to be a big field and that’s really biotechnology, as good as it comes.
Yeah, yeah the bio-fuel is right in there, right under synthetic biology. To me, it’s one of the, one of the topics that falls under… Well, there are a lot of ways to get to bio-fuel. I don’t think, you know, I think we’d all agree corned ethanol doesn’t make sense, a three-to-one return on energy at best. This company that’s working on the diesel, they’re getting an eight-to-one return now, they hope if they can start, they use sugar cane for a feedstock if they start burning the leftover cane they can produce electricity and sell the electricity and they’ll get about eleven-to-one return and that’s becoming competitive with oil drilling and other technologies for energy.
Jim Hudson scientist and businessmen who founded Research Genetics in 1987, the company that made synthetic DNA. He received a dual major in chemistry and physics from the University of Alabama and studied molecular biology. His company was very successful and dominated the market for synthetically made DNA in USA. That allowed Research Genetics to play a main role in the Human Genome Project. Company was sold in 2000 to Invitrogen.
Jim Hudson is co-founder of HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology in Huntsville. Together with his wife he formed a biodefense company, Concero Scientific.
More information: Technology Alabama