Cambridge Healthtech Institute recently spoke with leading experts and speakers from the biocatalysis industry about some of key talking points at CHI’s inaugural Biocatalysis and Synthetic Biology conference, taking place January 9-10, 2017 as part of the 16th Annual PepTalk event which runs from January 9- 13, 2017 in San Diego, CA.
David Rozzell, Ph.D., Senior Vice President, Biocatalysis, Provivi, Inc.
James Lalonde, Senior Vice President, R&D, Codexis
Mikael Elias, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biophysics, University of Minnesota
Q1: Why is biocatalysis such an exciting field to be part of at the moment?
David Rozzell: Technology for creating and screening enzyme and pathway variants has advanced significantly and progress is accelerating
James Lalonde: Biocatalysis is exciting because there has been a dramatic acceleration of technology advancements for engineering new enzymes. What used to take a year or more and a large team of 10 to 15 scientists can now be done by a few scientists in weeks or months. Gene sequencing and synthesis has become faster and cheaper by orders of magnitude. Computational methods for structure-function modelling and protein design are much more powerful and aid in shrinking the search space immensely. The net effect is that we can rapidly create enzymes with new activities custom for a given process that is fit for purpose; high stability and activity.
Mikael Elias: Biocatalysis, with the recent progress in protein engineering, is on the verge of a revolution that will create numerous opportunities in nearly all fields of industry.
Q2: What will delegates gain by attending your session?
DR: Insights into recent successes applying directed evolution to create new enzyme activities
JL: They will learn about the latest advancements in the use of biotechnology for chemicals, foods and for industrial bioprocessing
MA: Our session will reveal how new technologies in biocatalysis can revolutionize the current industrial processes by simultaneously be cleaner, more efficient and more cost-effective.
Q3: Which technology, research or paper has really excited you recently?
DR: Frances Arnold’s demonstration of carbene transferase insertion into Si-H bonds
JL: The creation of novel activities, ones that don’t exist in nature, but are of great interest to chemists. Frances Arnold will be highlighting some of these in her keynote lecture.
MA: I expect to make new connections and establish new collaborations with the unique combination of highly skilled individuals from both industry and academic gathered at this very same event.
Q4: Why are you attending PepTalk and what are you looking forward to at 2017’s gathering?
DR: Looking forward to speaking and networking, opportunity to interact with colleagues face-to-face
JL: I am attending to learn the state of the art and to network with the leaders in the field.
Q5: Do you have a special talent or fact the audience might not know about you?
DR: I am a duplicate bridge player
Meet Professor Frances Arnold, David Rozzell, Jim Lalonde and Mikael Elias at Cambridge Healthtech’s Biocatalysis and Synthetic Biology meeting on January 9-10 2017 in San Diego. We look forward to seeing you there.