Dr. Drew Endy

Dr. Drew Endy, Assistant Professor of Bioengineering, Stanford School of Medicine; President, BioBricks Foundation; Twitter: @DrewEndy

Lisa Krieger, Science Writer, San Jose Mercury News; Twitter: @lisamkrieger - Moderator

If you think programming your clock radio is hard, try reprogramming life itself. The Human Genome Project gave us the ability to read nature's instruction manual: DNA. But the real opportunities, scientists say, lie in our ability to not only read genetic code, but also to write it, then build it. Synthetic biology – a new frontier in bioengineering – works because biological creatures can be seen as programmable manufacturing systems. Endy wants to take control of a cell's genetic machinery to make cells that can follow different programs, that could automatically scan for chemical signals of cancer, produce a drug that will target the cancer directly. Endy, a leader in the field of synthetic biology and one of the White House’s Champions of Change, wants to revolutionize the way we detect and combat disease.

February 4, 2014