Narrator: This is Science Today. Discover magazine has named a bioengineer from the University of California , Berkeley its ‘Scientist of the Year'. Jay Keasling, a professor of chemical engineering and bioengineering, was recognized for his pioneering work in synthetic biology – a field that Keasling describes as putting engineering to biology.
Keasling: The implications down the road are significant. We'll be able to engineer microbes that will produce any molecule that we want. For instance, new drugs to fight disease. Many of the drugs that are currently available are taken from plants and they are available in very minute quantities – we'll be able to produce these in microbes and also product variants of them, which will allow us to produce drugs inexpensively.
Narrator: Keasling is already working on a way to mass-produce the anti-malarial drug artemisinin, which is currently obtained in small quantities from the wormwood plant.
Keasling: Synthetic biology plays an incredibly important role in the development of this microbe that will produce artemisinin.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.