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Scientific Advisors

    

Roger Kemble, Ph.D. | SAB Chairman

       •   A G R I M E T I S   B O A R D   O F   D I R E C T O R S

Roger served a number of leadership roles for Syngenta including President of Syngenta Biotechnology Inc., Global Head of Crop Genetics Research and Global Head of Technology Strategy & Integration from 2002 retiring in 2012.  Prior to that, he held management positions at Pioneer Hi-Bred International, a DuPont company (1991-2002), Allelix Crop Technologies and Allelix Inc. (1983-1991). In parallel to his industrial career he had an academic career as a professor at University of Toronto with an adjunct professorship at University of Waterloo, following work as an Assistant Professor at Kansas State University. Post-doctoral research was performed at University of Florida and the Plant Breeding Institute, Cambridge, UK following a Ph.D. from King's College, London.


Prof. Mervyn Bibb, Ph.D.

    • John Innes Centre

Mervyn's research focuses on understanding antibiotic production and its regulation in actinomycetes, the major source of clinically useful antibiotics.  The resulting knowledge is used not only to understand how these complex molecules are made, but also to engineer the producing organisms using synthetic biology to make potentially improved derivatives.  Genome sequencing has revealed that actinomycetes have the potential to produce many more natural products than previously thought, many of which are likely to possess anti-microbial activity; work in his group also focuses on the activation of these silent biosynthetic gene clusters.  He has published over 170 papers and is an Honorary Professor at UEA Norwich, Imperial College London, the Institute of Microbiology, and Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, and Wuhan University.  He is also a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS), the Society of Biology, and the American Academy of Microbiology and of the Royal Society of Chemistry.  Work in his group led to the formation of two JIC spin-out companies, Novacta Biosystems and Procarta Biosystems, of which he is co-founder.


Pat N. Confalone, Ph.D.  

   • Independent Consultant

A graduate of M.I.T., Pat obtained a Ph.D. at Harvard with Nobel laureate Prof. R.B. Woodward. After a post-doctoral stint, also with Prof. R.B. Woodward, directed toward the total synthesis of Vitamin B12, he joined the Chemical Research Department of Hoffmann-La Roche.  Moving to DuPont, his Bioorganic Chemistry group developed the fluorescent dye-labeled reagents that were used in automated DNA sequencing, eventually employed in the human genome project.  With DuPont’s Pharmaceutical Division, Pat’s Medicinal Chemistry department discovered Cozaar™, a major anti-hypertensive based on angiotensin II antagonism.  After 22 years in Discovery Research, he moved into pre-clinical development and his Chemical Process R&D organization carried out the chemical development of Cozaar™ and Sustiva™, a highly successful medicine used to treat AIDS.  As Vice President, Global R&D, DuPont Health, Nutrition, and Crop Protection, he led 300 scientists to build a world class pipeline of novel products, including Rynaxypyr™, with world-wide sales over a billion dollars a year. He has presented >110 invited or plenary lectures worldwide, published >140 papers, obtained >50 U.S. Patents, and has been an associate editor of over ten peer-reviewed scientific journals.  He has received numerous honors and awards, including the Harvard Graduate Society Prize, the Alpha Chi Sigma Award, the Robert A. Welch Lectureship, and the Philadelphia Organic Chemistry Award.  He was nominated to the Harvard Society of Fellows, is an elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and was recently elected Chairman of the Board of the American Chemical Society.  Currently, Pat is an independent consultant to the agrichemical, biotechnology, and pharmaceutical industries.


Philip Goelet, Ph.D.

 • Co-founder of agrimetis 

Philip has extensive experience as a scientist, entrepreneur and investor.  He has co-founded and invested in a number of biotechnology companies including Molecular Tool, Inc. (acquired by Orchid Biosciences), RiboTargets, Plc. (merged with Vernalis), Population Genetic Technologies, Arginetix (acquired by AstraZeneca), ZuvaChem and AgriMetis.  In parallel he co-founded Acidophil LLC, an innovation partnership, with Nobel Laureate Sydney Brenner, and Red Abbey Venture Partners, a health care private equity fund.  His interest in utilizing molecular biology and biochemistry to assist agriculture began with the sequencing of tobacco mosaic virus in 1982.


Daniel (Dan) R. Kittle, Ph.D.

 • Independent agricultural consultant  

Dan received his Ph.D. in phytopathology from the University of Illinois and accepted a post-doctoral appointment with the USDA-ARS Consortium of Integrated Pest Management where he conducted research on the interactions of diseases, nematodes, insects and weeds on soybean yield and quality.  He joined Eli Lilly and Company in their plant science division and held various R&D positions across agriculture and pharma.  He was leading the Lilly Plant Science Discovery function at the time of the DowElanco joint venture and subsequently was given a number of discovery, development and business roles before becoming Vice President of Research and Development for all Crop Protection and Seeds & Trait R&D divisions in Dow AgroSciences.  During his 16 years in this leadership role, Dan successfully built an integrated network of internal and external teams recognized externally for transforming science into solutions that delivered one of the most robust and diverse new-product pipelines in the Ag industry.  Dan is a passionate advocate for scientific outreach and education, an engaged participant in University advisory boards and an invited speaker on a diverse array of Ag-relevant topics.  Dan has a rich family heritage in agriculture which dates back to the homestead act of 1862.    


Prof. David Spring D.Phil.

   • University of Cambridge

David is currently a Professor at the University of Cambridge within the Chemistry Department. He worked with Sir Jack E. Baldwin (University of Oxford) and Stuart L. Schreiber (Harvard University), before he joined the faculty at the University of Cambridge in 2001. David’s research spans the disciplines of chemistry and biology through the synthesis of small molecules, which are applied to problems in the life sciences. In particular, he has focused on diversity-oriented synthesis, new synthetic methodologies and chemical biology in order to discover new, biologically-functional small molecules. He has published five book chapters and co-authored more than 145 journal articles. His group’s laboratory has been awarded a number of research prizes including the Royal Society of Chemistry’s “Norman Heatley Award” and “Corday-Morgan Award”, and the Spanish Chemical Societies’ Felix Serratosa Award." He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (FRSC). He has collaborated with many international companies in the chemical industries.


Prof. Huimin Zhao, Ph.D.

  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Huimin received his B.S. degree in Biology from the University of Science and Technology of China in 1992 and his Ph.D. degree in Chemistry from the California Institute of Technology in 1998.  Prior to joining UIUC in 2000, he was a project leader at the Dow Chemical Company.  He was promoted to full professor in 2008.  Dr. Zhao has authored and co-authored over 230 research articles and over 20 issued and pending patent applications with several being licensed by industry.  In addition, he has given over 260 plenary, keynote or invited lectures in international meetings, universities, industries, and research institutes. Dr. Zhao received numerous research and teaching awards and honors, such as Elmer Gaden Award (2014), Guggenheim Fellowship (2012), Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2010) and the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (2009). Dr. Zhao is an advisor to the Department of Energy’s Biological and Environmental Research program and the visiting principal investigator of the metabolic engineering research laboratory (MERL) in the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) of Singapore. In addition, he is the theme leader of the Biosystems Design theme in the Institute for Genomic Biology at UIUC.  Dr. Zhao is an Associate Editor of ACS Catalysis and an editor of ACS Synthetic Biology, Journal of Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology, Scientific Reports, Biocatalysis, and Engineering in Life Sciences. His primary research interests are in the development and applications of synthetic biology tools to address society’s most daunting challenges in health, energy, and sustainability, and in the fundamental aspects of enzyme catalysis, cell metabolism, and gene regulation.  


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