Craig Venter Aims to Replace the Entire Petrochemical Industry
“Designing and building synthetic cells will be the basis of a new industrial revolution,” Dr. Venter says. “The goal is to replace the entire petrochemical industry.” _NYT
Craig Venter is one example of an unlikely problem solver. He was a poor student in his youth, and only after living through some harrowing experiences in Vietnam as a military medic was young Venter able to get his head on straight, and decide to do something with his life.
...Dr. Venter has a history of defying skeptics, and many people are betting that he will succeed this time as well. Dr. Walton, in fact, invested personally in Synthetic Genomics, and his venture firm, Oxford Bioscience Partners, recently wanted to sink a hefty sum into the company but was turned down when Dr. Venter found other investors offering better terms.Venter seems to love challenges and competitions. He lives to defy skeptics and to defeat rivals. And do you know the odd thing? The world is full of young Venters who have not yet -- and may never -- figured out what they want to do with their lives.
Exxon Mobil is giving Synthetic Genomics $300 million in research financing to design algae that could be used to produce gasoline and diesel fuel. (The new greenhouse will be used for that research.)
BP has invested in the company itself, turning to Synthetic Genomics to study microbes that might help turn coal deposits into cleaner-burning natural gas. Another investor, the Malaysian conglomerate Genting, wants to improve oil output from its palm tree plantations, working toward what its chief executive calls a “gasoline tree.”
...In the approach toward which Dr. Venter is driving, engineers would specify the entire genetic code of a cell — essentially the software that runs the cell — on computers, making design changes as if on a word processor. They would then press the “print” button, so to speak, and the DNA would be manufactured from its chemical components. The synthetic DNA would then be transplanted into an existing cell, where it would “boot up” and take control of the cell’s operations.
...Synthetic Genomics has about 130 employees. But much of its research, including the development of the synthetic cell, is done at the J. Craig Venter Institute. Synthetic Genomics pays for about 25 of the institute’s roughly 300 researchers, and has rights to their results. The rest of the institute’s funding comes mainly from federal grants and its endowment.... _NYT
Pelted mercilessly with nightmarish predictions of doom and gloom, and instilled by governmenbt schools and indoctrinating universities with the futility of trying to fight their fate, hundreds of thousands of young Venters never amount to much -- when they might have done, given the right experiences in early life.