The Future Will Be Genetically Engineered

Alec Nielsen

Genetic engineering is in some sense as old as human history, when we first began selectively breeding livestock and crops. Then came the advent of biotech, and our ability to read, copy, edit, and now write DNA directly with tools like CRISPR. But that’s just the beginning. With a whole new toolbox available to us and growing every day, our ability to design complex genetic functions is just getting started.

In this talk (given at the annual a16z Summit in 2019), synthetic biologist Alec Nielsen, co-founder and CEO of Asimov, will walk us through the new technology tools and platforms we will use to program cell circuitry, design proteins, even debug biology. The future is being genetically engineered today.

Video highlights:

  • Biology is already advanced nanotechnology [1:00]
  • A brief overview of the history of bioengineering [2:09]
  • The technological advances that built the foundation of modern bioengineering [2:35]
  • Examples of the advances in bioengineering that were enabled by new technologies [4:01]
  • The breakthroughs of cell and gene therapies [7:00]
  • What genetic functions synthetic biologists are looking to build next [8:11]
  • Parallels in other industries like electrical engineering [9:12]
  • How bioengineers will program living cells with the aid of computers [10:15]
  • Bioengineered personalized treatments like cancer vaccines [11:03]
  • Designing unique encoded molecules [13:41]
  • Statistical approaches and computational models enabled by machine learning [15:00]
  • The types of products we can expect as bioengineering advances [15:16]
  • Solving the “space problem” with biology [16:59]

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