In the News

Scaling up synthetic biology innovation – MIT News

  • December 11, 2015

Inside and outside of the classroom, MIT professor Joseph Jacobson has become a prominent figure in — and advocate for — the emerging field of synthetic biology.

As head of the Molecular Machines group at the MIT Media Lab, Jacobson’s work has focused on, among other things, developing technologies for the rapid fabrication of DNA molecules. In 2009, he spun out some of his work into Gen9, which aims to boost synthetic-biology innovation by offering scientists more cost-effective tools and resources.


Headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Gen9 has developed a method for synthesizing DNA on silicon chips, which significantly cuts costs and accelerates the creation and testing of genes. Commercially available since 2013, the platform is now being used by dozens of scientists and commercial firms worldwide.


Benchling Partners With Gen9 on DNA Library Design Tool as Software Suite Grows - GenomeWeb

  • November 16, 2015

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Digital lab notebook software firm Benchling has partnered with synthetic DNA maker Gen9 to create a DNA library design tool. Launched earlier this month at SynBioBeta in California, the partners intend for the online tool to streamline the process of ordering large libraries of DNA variants. It's the latest in a series of moves for the startup firm as it tries to build its user base.


Gen9 launches super-powerful synthetic DNA library platform - Biofuels Digest

  • November 9, 2015

In California, Gen9 announced the launch of a powerful DNA library platform that allows users to rapidly design variants and order synthetic DNA libraries. The new platform will be unveiled at SynBioBeta San Francisco, taking place November 4-6 at the Mission Bay Conference Center in San Francisco, CA.


Biotecnika Magazine: An Interview with Mr. Kevin Munnelly, CEO at Gen9

  • October 5, 2015

Kevin has a passion for synthetic biology and is an active proponent of bringing innovative technologies to market that will enable the next generation of breakthroughs in this exciting field. Kevin is the President and CEO of Gen9 and currently serves on the board of directors for OH2 Laboratories, Innovate America and Mass Innovation Labs. He is an advisor to Eve Biomedical, eGenesis and several synthetic biology start-up companies in the greater Boston area. Prior to Gen9, Kevin was Leader and General Manager of the Next Generation qPCR business at Life Technologies.


Synthetic biology’s clinical applications

  • September 29, 2015

The breadth of synthetic biology, especially when applied clinically, makes teamwork a necessity for this field. For example, geneticist George Church of Harvard University, synthetic biologist Drew Endy of Stanford University, and microelectronics expert Joseph Jacobson of MIT founded Gen9, a company in Cambridge, Massachusetts that advertises itself as a "high-throughput supplier of synthesized genes."

Historically, scientists synthesized genes in pieces composed of 200 or less base pairs—the four building blocks of DNA—largely to reduce the odds of errors. Church, Endy, and Jacobson teamed up to create the BioFab platform, a chip-based process for gene synthesis that can synthesize hundreds of thousands of base pairs. This process allows researchers to work with nonribosomal peptide-synthetase (NRPS) enzymes, for example. These enzymes come from a long gene cluster that is "critical in identifying new antibiotics," says molecular biologist Devin Leake, vice president of R&D at Gen9. Developing new antibiotics is especially important to Leake because he is allergic to the old standby, penicillin.


LS9 Alumni Found Industrial Microbes and Win G-Prize Contest

  • September 18, 2015

Perhaps most empowering, Industrial Microbes won Gen9’s G-prize last month. The reward is 500 kb of synthesized DNA, which will allow them to test an enormous toolkit of enzymes untouched by scientists and synthetic biologists. Refactoring refers to rewriting the DNA of a gene to optimize codons for a new organism, and to remove any unknown regulatory features that might be encoded in the original DNA sequence. This was the first time the contest was open to non-academic participants, but it will be available to startups again this year.


Gen9 to Collaborate With Non-Profit iGEM on Synthetic Biology Resource

  • September 18, 2015

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Synthetic biology firm Gen9 announced today that it has signed a deal to provide freely available DNA parts to the research community in collaboration with International Genetically Engineered Machine Competition (iGEM).


Are Microbes the Taste-Makers of the Future?

  • March 31, 2015

To achieve scale and speed in its DNA synthesis process, Gen9 adheres to an important mantra: avoid sequencing. Under the traditional gene production regime, oligos are stitched together, “and if you haven’t used error correction,” warns Munnelly, “you have a certain percentage of the population that is wrong. If you then have to put something into an organism and pick colonies and send them through a sequencing pipeline, it’s a really expensive process.” Gen9’s error evaluation approach uses the MutS enzyme to identify nucleotide bases that differ from the population’s consensus, and then repair the mismatches. “If the screening is cheap then you can make a lot of variants,” says Munnelly, which in turn allows researchers to query a wider range of products.


The Brave New World of DNA Synthesis

  • March 30, 2015

Biotech has promised great things for years, since DNA sequencing went mainstream. And while many believe those promises have gone largely unfulfilled, a renewed sense of potential is growing based on DNA synthesis technologies. It’s a shift from a purely observational mode of interaction with the code of life (DNA sequencing) to active tinkering and experimentation (DNA synthesis). “For decades, we’ve just been getting a sense of the potential that sequencing can give us,” says Munnelly. “But the ability to write good, high-quality DNA constructs represents the future of medicine and the future of science.”


Predicting a Future Where Products Are Parented and Grown

  • March 27, 2015

Companies including Gingko, Emerald, Transcriptic, Gen9, and Zymergen are also creating platforms and services that “allow many other people to do more things …clicking into a future where many other people can get access to what has previously been a very exclusive, artisanal, expert-driven process,” Endy noted.