Jay Keasling

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Jay Keasling
Dr. Jay D. Keasling at PopTech Energy Salon
Dr. Jay D. Keasling speaking at PopTech Energy Salon 2011 in New York City
Institutions University of California, Berkeley, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, University of Michigan
Alma mater University of Nebraska-Lincoln
University of Michigan
Thesis Dynamics and control of bacterial plasmid replication (1991)
Doctoral advisor Bernhard Palsson[1][2]
Known for metabolic engineering
Notable awards Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation grant, 2012 Heinz Award

Jay D. Keasling is a Professor of Chemical engineering and Bioengineering at the University of California, Berkeley.[3][4] He is also Associate Laboratory Director for Biosciences at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the Founding Head of the Synthetic Biology Department in the Physical Biosciences Division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and chief executive officer of the Joint BioEnergy Institute.[5] He is considered one of the foremost authorities in synthetic biology, especially in the field of metabolic engineering.


Keasling received his Bachelor's Degree at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where he was a member of Delta Tau Delta International Fraternity. He went on to complete his Doctor of Philosophy degree at the University of Michigan in 1991 under the supervision of Bernhard Palsson.[6]


Keasling's current research[7] involves the metabolic engineering of the Escherichia coli bacterium to produce biofuels and of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast to produce the anti-malarial drug artemisinin.[8][9] 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.[10] 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.[11]

In 2009, Keasling was awarded the first annual Biotech Humanitarian Award by BIO, the Biotechnology Industry Organization.[12] In 2004, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation awarded a $42.5 million grant to the Institute for OneWorld Health to develop and distribute the low-cost malaria treatment based on Keasling's technology.[11] In 2006 Discover magazine awarded its first ever Scientist of the Year Award to Jay Keasling.[13] Keasling is a member of the National Academy of Engineering.

Other related research interests include systems biology and environmental biotechnology.


Keasling is originally from Harvard, Nebraska and is openly gay.[14][15]


  1. ^ Palsson laboratory alumni. Gcrg.ucsd.edu. Retrieved on 2012-05-22.
  2. ^ Palsson, B. O.; Keasling, J. D.; Emerson, S. G. (1990). "The regulatory mechanisms of human immunodeficiency virus replication predict multiple expression rates". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 87 (2): 772–776. doi:10.1073/pnas.87.2.772. PMC 53348. PMID 2405389.  edit
  3. ^ Jay D. Keasling Faculty Page at UC Berkeley. Cheme.berkeley.edu. Retrieved on 2012-05-22.
  4. ^ The Keasling Lab Web Site
  5. ^ About JBEI. jbei.org
  6. ^ Keasling, Jay D. (1981). Dynamics and control of bacterial plasmid replication (PhD thesis). University of Michigan. 
  7. ^ Jay Keasling in Google Scholar. Scholar.google.com. Retrieved on 2012-05-22.
  8. ^ Ro, D. K.; Paradise, E. M.; Ouellet, M.; Fisher, K. J.; Newman, K. L.; Ndungu, J. M.; Ho, K. A.; Eachus, R. A.; Ham, T. S.; Kirby, J.; Chang, M. C. Y.; Withers, S. T.; Shiba, Y.; Sarpong, R.; Keasling, J. D. (2006). "Production of the antimalarial drug precursor artemisinic acid in engineered yeast". Nature 440 (7086): 940–943. doi:10.1038/nature04640. PMID 16612385.  edit
  9. ^ Martin, V. J. J.; Pitera, D. J.; Withers, S. T.; Newman, J. D.; Keasling, J. D. (2003). "Engineering a mevalonate pathway in Escherichia coli for production of terpenoids". Nature Biotechnology 21 (7): 796–802. doi:10.1038/nbt833. PMID 12778056.  edit
  10. ^ Specter, Michael (2009). Denialsim How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet, and Threatens Our Lives. Penguin Group. p. 229. ISBN 978-1-59420-230-8. 
  11. ^ a b An Age-Old Microbe May Hold the Key to Curing an Age-Old Affliction. Science@Berkeley. May 30, 2006
  12. ^ Jay Keasling Receives Inaugural Biotech Humanitarian Award, bio.org. May 20, 2009
  13. ^ Carl Zimmer Scientist of the Year: Jay Keasling. Discover Magazine. November 22, 2006
  14. ^ Shukla, Shipra. (2009-03-02) LGBT Scientists Hear About Coming Out on the Job. Ucsf.edu. Retrieved on 2012-05-22.
  15. ^ What's the Next Big Thing?. Pbs.org. Retrieved on 2012-05-22.

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