CBQF 30 Years Anniversary Seminar 6: Amyris’ industrial biotechnology pipeline: How we launched 13 new bioproducts in 10 years

Thursday, September 30, 2021 - 17:00

In the scope of CBQF celebration of its 30 years, CBQF is organizing a Cycle of Seminars about several topics related with different areas of research. The 6th Seminar titled “Amyris’ industrial biotechnology pipeline: How we launched 13 new bioproducts in 10 years“, will be held on September 30th at 5:00pm (9:00am in San Francisco, USA).


Brief Abstract
Biology is unparalleled in its molecular diversity and wide application space. There are however numerous challenges associated with realizing the full potential of this molecular diversity. Optimization of microbial production of any biological target requires repeated iterations of the design-build-test-analyze engineering cycle and the rate at which any team can execute the engineering cycle directly affects the time to market for any product. Similarly, the magnitude of strain improvement in each cycle impacts overall costs and development time. At Amyris, advanced tools for strain engineering, high throughput screening, analytics, and bioinformatics have been developed over the years to rapidly accelerate the engineering cycle and reduce the number of necessary iterations. With these capabilities, scientists at Amyris can efficiently optimize multiple biological pathways simultaneously. This presentation will cover details of the next-generation strain engineering and analysis platforms that enable Amyris scientists to rapidly iterate through multiple cycles of the strain optimization process, as well as the engineering of metabolic pathways to convert naïve yeast strains into commercial scale production hosts for various molecules.


Short biography

Kirsten R. Benjamin
Kirsten R. Benjamin, Ph.D. is a Vice President of R&D at Amyris Inc. in the San Francisco Bay Area. Amyris is a successful pioneer in the high-technology renewable bio-based products sector, with a track record of quickly bringing novel fermentation products to market. Prior to joining Amyris 14 years ago, Kirsten received her Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of California at Berkeley, completed a postdoctoral research fellowship in genetics at the University of California at San Francisco, and was a senior research fellow in systems biology at the Molecular Sciences Institute. At Amyris, she previously led the Biofene Program, and currently leads the 60-person Biology Department. The Biology Department includes Automated Strain Engineering, enzyme engineering, and microbial strain development. Over the years, Kirsten’s technical leadership and coordination between technology development in R&D and Manufacturing has aided successful technology transfer of over eight microbial strains and processes for large-scale manufacturing of multiple target molecules.


Michael Leavell
As Vice President of R&D and a member of the Research Leadership Team, Michael Leavell leads the Screening and Analytical Science Department (SCAN). SCAN is the ‘test’ portion of Amyris’ molecule pipeline and uses high-throughput screening, bench-scale fermentation, analytical chemistry, and ‘omics analysis to analyze millions of engineered microorganisms per year to assess their performance and identify areas for improvement. In addition to leading SCAN, he also led the development of Amyris’ zero-calorie sweetener, RebM, from project inception to first commercial production. He has more than 30 published scientific papers and patents. Prior to joining Amyris in 2006, Dr. Leavell received his Ph.D. in Chemistry from University of California, Berkeley, and his B.S. in Chemistry from University of Colorado, Denver.