Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

The power of change in science

March 9, 2020

women trailblazers

Guided by CRISPR pioneer Jennifer Doudna, a formidable entrepreneur in her own right, C&EN profiled 15 women working in the Chemical industry in academics and startups in C&EN's 2020 Trailblazers. Four of them are affiliated with UC Berkeley's College of Chemistry. They have collectively launched more than 30 start-ups aimed at developing treatments for rare diseases, building better batteries, and more. They’re chemical scientists at the top of their game. They’re role models building and mentoring teams. And yes, they’re badasses. They live by the motto “Nobody ever got anywhere by listening to no.”

Jay Keasling talks to Japan's NHK World about Synthetic Biology

August 14, 2019

Richmond Sarpong

Jay Keasling, Professor, Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering and JBEI’s Chief Executive Officer, was featured in NHK World’s interview program “Direct Talk”. Keasling, a pioneer of synthetic biology, talks about the impact that this interdisciplinary technology can have in people’s lives as well as addresses its safety concerns.

Introducing our new faculty members and their lab groups

September 3, 2019

Shekar, Schepartz and Zuerch

This year, there will be three new lab groups forming under three new professors. Alanna Schepartz and Michael Zuerch are joining the Department of Chemistry; Karthik Shekhar will be in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. In the fall, new professors are often still in the process of moving in and awaiting new lab space setups.

Newly granted CRISPR patents boost UC’s U.S. portfolio to 10

August 2, 2019

The bacterial enzyme Cas9 is the engine of RNA-programmed genome engineering in human cells. (UC Berkeley graphic by K. C. Roeyer)

The University of California has received two new patents for use of the revolutionary CRISPR-Cas9 technology, increasing its gene-editing patent portfolio to 10. Five more are expected to be issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office by the end of the summer.

The patents were awarded today to UC and its co-patentees, the University of Vienna and Emmanuelle Charpentier, who co-invented CRISPR-Cas9 with UC Berkeley's Jennifer Doudna.

Frances Arnold turns microbes into living factories

May 28, 2019

Frances Arnold. Photo by Erika Gerdemark for The New York Times.Instead of synthesizing new biochemicals from scratch, the Nobel Prize-winning chemist puts nature to the task — with astonishing results.

PASADENA, Calif. — The engineer’s mantra, said Frances Arnold, a professor of chemical engineering at the California Institute of Technology, is: “Keep it simple, stupid.” But Dr. Arnold, who last year became just the fifth woman in history to win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, is the opposite of stupid, and her stories sometimes turn rococo.

Frances Arnold: from graduate student to Nobel Laureate

March 3, 2019

Frances ArnoldIn the early 1980s, the lab of College biomolecular engineer Harvey Blanch brought together an adventurous group of young researchers and launched them on long and successful careers. One of them, Caltech professor Frances Arnold, has won the 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for her discoveries in the directed evolution of enzymes. Arnold is the fifth woman to win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry since it was first awarded in 1901.

Douglas Clark receives award for excellence in biochemical engineering

May 6, 2019

Douglas Clark

Dean Douglas Clark has been awarded the prestigious D.I.C. Wang Award for Excellence in Biochemical Engineering for 2019 from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE).

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.