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Now Available: Innovators Under 35 2013 See The 2013 List »

Matthew DeLisa, 32

Delivering more medicine from microbes

Cornell University

Each year, billions of dollars worth of drugs, from insulin for diabetics to the stroke drug tPA, are made in huge vats full of microbes engineered to produce human proteins. The process is both inefficient and enormously expensive. Matthew DeLisa, an assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, was the first scientist to use a twin arginine translocation (Tat) pathway to produce human proteins. This should mean cleaner proteins and longer-lived cultures. DeLisa is also modifying bacteria to improve each step in protein production. His focus, he says, is "the engineering of biological machines to tackle problems that nature itself cant do." Until recently, the biotech industry focused on changing the growth environment for bacteria to boost protein productivity, but DeLisa is supercharging production by going inside the cell itself. For example, hes replacing key parts of the bacterias protein-making machinery with components from higher organisms to produce finely tuned miniature drug factories.

2005 TR35 Winners

Thijn Brummelkamp

Silencing the genes that cause cancer

Martha Bulyk

Discovering how genes are regulated

Matthew DeLisa

Delivering more medicine from microbes

Kevin Eggan

Using cloning to study degenerative diseases

Paul Hergenrother

Discovering drugs that defy convention

Trey Ideker

Defining and advancing systems biology

Hang Lu

Designing microfluidic chips to study cells

Melissa Mahoney

Making materials to treat brain damage

Daniel Riskin

Developing devices for wound closure and early heart-attack intervention.

Shiladitya Sengupta

Delivering drugs to cancer cells

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