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Jay D. Keasling

Jay D. Keasling
Dr. Jay D. Keasling is a Professor of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering at the University of California, Berkeley. He is also Acting Deputy Laboratory Director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Chief Executive Officer of the Joint BioEnergy Institute. He is considered one of the foremost authorities in synthetic biology, especially in the field of metabolic engineering. Other, related research interests include Systems Biology and Environmental Biotechnology.

Keasling's current research involves the metabolic engineering of the Escherichia coli bacterium, to produce the anti-malarial drug artemisinin. Although it is an effective, proven treatment for malaria, current methods of producing artemisinin (found naturally in the plant Artemisia annua) are considered too expensive to cost-effectively eliminate malaria from developing countries. By producing the drug from a microbe, rather than harvesting it from a plantation, the Keasling Lab intends to lower the cost of artemisinin production from $2.40 per dose to $0.25 per dose.

In 2009, Keasling was awarded the first annual Biotech Humanitarian Award by BIO, the Biotechnology Industry Organization.  In 2004, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation awarded a shared $42.5 million grant to the Keasling Lab, Amyris Biotechnologies, and the Institute for OneWorld Health to develop and distribute the low-cost malaria treatment.  In 2007, the Department of Energy awarded Keasling and colleagues a $134 million grant that founded the Joint BioEnergy Institute. In 2006, Discover magazine awarded its first ever Scientist of the Year Award to Jay Keasling.

Jay Keasling received his Bachelor's Degree at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He received his Ph.D from the University of Michigan in 1991. He is originally from Harvard, Nebraska.