Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

Scientists use DNA origami to alter gene expression in plants

April 4, 2019

DNA origami could change the way we alter plants

new research reported from the lab of Markita Landry, a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at UC Berkeley, a team of scientists has taken an original approach of using DNA origami nanotechnology to slip through plant cell walls and graft small interfering RNA (siRNA) directly onto plant cells. Their research shows it is possible to directly silence genes in plants without damaging plant tissues, and without making any alterations to the plant’s genome.

Meet Frances Arnold, Teenage Rebel Turned Nobel Laureate

March 28, 2019

Frances Arnold

At 15, she was a class-skipping, catch-me-if-you-can maverick hitchhiking to D.C. to protest the Vietnam War. Looking back on those years now, Frances Arnold says, “Fifteen is one of those terrifying ages, where you’re frustrated because you know something’s wrong, but you have no idea how to fix it. So I did what I could, which is protest. “But as I’ve gone through my life,” she continues, “I know that it’s my responsibility to fix it. I’m much better at fixing things than protesting.”

With nanotubes, genetic engineering in plants is easy-peasy

February 25, 2019

genetic engineering in plants just got easier and safer New research reported from the lab of Markita Landry announces scientists could make genetically engineering any type of plant—in particular, gene editing with CRISPR-Cas9—simple and quick. To deliver a gene, the researchers grafted it onto a carbon nanotube, which is tiny enough to slip easily through a plant’s tough cell wall. To date, most genetic engineering of plants is done by firing genes into the tissue—a process known as biolistics—or delivering genes via bacteria. Both are successful only a small percentage of the time, which is a major limitation for scientists seeking to create disease - or drought-resistant crops or to engineer plants so they’re more easily converted to biofuels.

Alumni innovation in the news

March 13, 2019

Ripple MilkGraduates of the College’s Chemistry and Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering departments are making news as they become market innovators with their recent startups and products. News stories about Lygos, Chemistry and Ripple look at the latest chemistry innovations and funding for these companies.

Researchers team up to create a drug sponge to absorb excess chemotherapy medication

March 15, 2019

Steven Hetts, MD, UCSFA research team from UCSF, UC Berkeley and 3D Printer Carbon, Inc. have created a drug sponge to absorb excess chemotherapy medication. The sponge is being designed so that after the chemotherapy has gone through the tumor, the part that hasn't treated the tumor could bind to the device, absorbing the excess dose like a "drug sponge." At the end of the procedure, the device is removed from the body, preventing the spread of toxicity throughout the body. "

Emeritus professor Jean Fréchet awarded King Faisal Prize in Science

February 27, 2019

Jean Fréchet named 2019 King Faisal Prize in Science winnerProfessor Jean M. J. Fréchet, UC Berkeley professor emeritus and Allen Bard, Professor of Chemistry at UT Austin have been named co-Laureates of the 2019 King Faisal Prize in Science. The award, announced on January 13, cites Fréchet's pioneering work and seminal contributions in the areas of convergent synthesis of dendrimers and their applications, chemically amplified photoresists and organic photovoltaics. A ceremony honoring the Laureates will be held in March.

Yeast produce low-cost, high-quality cannabinoids

February 27, 2019

Scientists in the lab of Jay Keasling grow marijuana chemicals using yeast UC Berkeley synthetic biologists have engineered brewer’s yeast to produce marijuana’s main ingredients—mind-altering THC and non-psychoactive CBD—as well as novel cannabinoids not found in the plant itself. Medical research on the more than 100 other chemicals in marijuana has been difficult, because the chemicals occur in tiny quantities, making them hard to extract from the plant. Inexpensive, purer sources—like yeast—could make such studies easier.

Congratulations to Jeffrey Long and Daniel Neumark on receiving 2019 ACS awards

January 25, 2019

Jeffrey Long and Daniel NeumarkUC Berkeley College of Chemistry professors Jeffrey Long and Daniel Neumark have been announced as 2019 American Chemical Society (ACS) awardees for their pioneering chemical research. They will be honored at a ceremony at the spring ACS national meeting in Orlando, Florida, March 31–April 4, 2019.

"Chemical Engineering Design and Analysis" available in second edition

January 24, 2019

Chemical Engineering Design and AnalysisThe new edition of "Chemical Engineering Design and Analysis" written by T. Michael Duncan, Cornell University, New York and Jeffrey A. Reimer, University of California, Berkeley will be available in February from Cambridge University Press. "Chemical Engineering Design and Analysis" puts design at the center of introducing students to the course in mass and energy balances in chemical engineering. Employers and accreditations increasingly stress the importance of design in the engineering curriculum, and design-driven analysis will motivate students to dig deeply into the key concepts of the field.

Professor Nitash Balsara discusses ways to help the earth

January 18, 2019

Nitash Balsar wants to help the earthProfessor Balsara discusses ways to make better batteries through development, education and listening to students in this portrait for the Clean Energy Project produced by renowned photographer Rick Chapman whose work has been seen at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery.