Ari Patrinos on Synthetic Genomics, Inc.
  Ari Patrinos     Biography    
Recorded: 03 Mar 2006

My name is Ari Patrinos and I am the newly minted president of a company called Synthetic Genomics Incorporated, a company that Craig Venter started last year 2005.

Well, the goal of the company is to really harness the advances that we have made as a scientific community in molecular biology, especially in the area of microbial genomics. Harness that capability in order to make advances that can have impacts in areas such as the production of clean energy, bioremediation, issues of carbon sequestration to mitigate climate change and many other industrial applications that would involve replacing petroleum as the raw material for the products.

I think we have several things which I can’t tell you about because clearly now we are in the profit making world and if I told you about it, it would put us at a competitive disadvantage. The reason I took this job is because I saw a tremendous opportunity in the applications that I just described. And furthermore, I thought that I had reached the natural end of the career I had in the federal government heading the biological and environmental research program in the Office of Science of the Department of Energy. So I was ready for a change. I was also going to be 59 this year and I wanted to have one other career. I have had many things. I have done many things in my life from teaching at universities, doing research in the laboratories and working in the government, but the one thing that I didn’t have is working the private sector. So I wanted to also have that before I really, really retire which I hope I never do.

We want to be very successful as a business in terms of making money. There’s no question about that. But I also think we want to be successful in terms of changing many things in society and in industry in a sense of focusing on more renewable energy or production of industrial materials that are renewable. In a sense replacing for example petroleum as a raw material. So it isn’t just a profit-making motive that we have, but we also want to change the way we do a lot of things in this world so that we can make it more sustainable in terms of development and in terms of energy production.

It certainly would include some of the genetic engineering of microbes. But it could also include other things such as the production, de novo of microbial genomes, which is one of the goals and one of the projects that Craig Venter has been talking about ever since he sequenced Mycoplasma genitalium eleven years ago.

Ari Patrinos, currently is a president of Synthetic Genomics, Inc. He is best known for his leading roles in the development of the U.S. Global Change Research Program and the U.S. Human Genome Project. He earned his undergraduate degree from the National Technical University of Athens and Ph.D. in mechanical engineering and astronautical sciences from Northwestern University.

Patrinos has worked in Department of Energy (DOE) Laboratory system since 1973. His research area includes biomedical engineering, atmospheric turbulence, environmental chemistry, climate change, and statistical methods. In 1995 he became the Associate Director for Biological and Environmental Research in the DOE Office of Science and was responsible for human and microbial genome programs, structural biology, nuclear medicine and health effects, global environmental change. He helped create the DOE's Joint Genome Institute (JGI) in 1997 and developed the DOE's Genomes to Life Program.

He is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the American Geophysical Union, and a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society.