The SynBioBeta Podcast

John Cumbers

Welcome to The SynBioBeta Podcast: Conversations with synthetic biology’s leading thinkers on building a better world with biology. Hosted by John Cumbers, founder and CEO of SynBioBeta, where tech meets bio and bio meets tech.

Stay updated on the latest news in synthetic biology, check out our weekly newsletter and follow us on social media:

Welcome to the SynBioBeta Podcast!
Trailer 1 min 14 sec

All Episodes

Today John Cumbers talks with Matt Ocko, co-founder and co-Managing Partner of the silicon valley deep tech venture fund DCVC. The topics for today are the different visions of the Star Trek and Star Wars future economies, the utopic versus the dystopic; how he evaluates a company in the context of these sci-fi classics; and why he has decided to invest in Deep Tech and what opportunities are emerging in synthetic biology. Matt has over three decades of experience in the Deep Tech space, including computational and synthetic biology. Along with his investment work at DCVC, Matt holds upwards of 50 approved or pending patents. He also has a deep knowledge of China and the intellectual property environment there. He worked pro-bono with his Dad for 20 years to help develop China’s venture capital and technology regulatory frameworks. And somehow, he still finds time to build robots with his kids. Connect with Matt: @mattocko Connect with John: @johncumbers Stay updated on the latest news in synthetic biology, check out our weekly newsletter and follow us on social media: Twitter | LinkedIn | Facebook Be sure you make it to our SynBioBeta events! Click here for more information.

Jun 15

52 min 15 sec

Today John Cumbers talks with Massimo Portincaso, managing director and partner at BCG. John will be talking to Massimo about what nature co-design, how we're shifting from global supply chains to global value chains, what distributed biological manufacturing is, and more.. Massimo Portincaso co-leads the Deep Tech Mission, BCG’s unit focused on the deep tech approach to innovation, emerging technologies, and the new rules of engagement for all actors in the innovation space. He is also the Chairman of Hello Tomorrow, an organization dedicated to unlocking the power of deep tech to solve the toughest global challenges. You can keep up with Massimo through his newsletter, The Antidisciplinarian, which covers happenings at the intersection of matter, computation, sensing, creativity, and ethics. Connect with John: @johncumbers Stay updated on the latest news in synthetic biology, check out our weekly newsletter and follow us on social media: Twitter | LinkedIn | Facebook Be sure you make it to our SynBioBeta events! Click here for more information.

Feb 2

39 min 2 sec

Today John Cumbers talks with Karl Schmieder the founder of messagingLAB, a strategy and consulting firm that helps biotechnology and synthetic biology companies create and execute strategies to drive the industry forward. Connect with Karl: @karlschmieder Connect with John: @johncumbers Stay updated on the latest news in synthetic biology, check out our weekly newsletter and follow us on social media: Twitter | LinkedIn | Facebook Be sure you make it to SynBioBeta Brand and Biology event December 2nd & 3rd! Click here for more information.

Nov 2020

30 min 2 sec

Today John Cumbers talks with Ryan Bethencourt, founder and CEO of Wild Earth. John will be talking to Ryan about the state of COVID and questions like "Does eating animals cause pandemics?" Recorded live on: March 15th, 2020 To watch the video component: https://www.facebook.com/SynBioBeta/videos/199598178035525/ Connect with Ryan: @RyanBethencourt Connect with John: @johncumbers Stay updated on the latest news in synthetic biology, check out our weekly newsletter and follow us on social media: Twitter | LinkedIn | Facebook Be sure you make it to SynBioBeta 2020 this September 29 - October 1! Click here for more information.

Aug 2020

1 hr 20 min

Today John Cumbers talks with Emily Leproust, Entrepreneur and CEO of Twist Bioscience. John will be talking to Emily about why she founded Twist, the many industries that will be disrupted by DNA technology, and how Twist is building a company culture for growth diversity and excellence. Emily is the co founder and the CEO of Twist Bioscience, an early pioneer in high throughput synthesis and sequencing of DNA. Emily is disrupting the process of gene synthesis to enable the exponential growth of synthetic biology applications in many fields, including medicine, DNA, data storage, agriculture biology, and industrial chemicals.   Connect with Emily.: @EmilyLeproust Connect with John: @johncumbers Stay updated on the latest news in synthetic biology, check out our weekly newsletter and follow us on social media: Twitter | LinkedIn | Facebook Be sure you make it to SynBioBeta 2020 this September 29 - October 1! Click here for more information.

Aug 2020

58 min 46 sec

Today John Cumbers talks with John Nicols, President and CEO of Codexis, a leading protein engineering company here in Silicon Valley. I’ll be talking with John about “How protein engineering is the killer app for biology.” Specifically, I’ll talk with John about the amazing pedigree and origins of Codexis, how companies like Codexis are changing the way the biopharma industry does business, and John’s vision for how protein engineering is going to impact our daily lives. Connect with John: @johncumbers Stay updated on the latest news in synthetic biology, check out our weekly newsletter and follow us on social media: Twitter | LinkedIn | Facebook Be sure you make it to SynBioBeta 2020 this September 29 - October 1! Click here for more information.

Aug 2020

1 hr 14 min

Today John Cumbers talks with D.A. Wallach, recording artist and emerging tech investor. John will be talking to D.A. about his journey from performing artist to investor in emerging tech, how his unique background informs his investment thesis, and what opportunities he’s most excited about in synthetic biology these days.   D.A. Wallach is a recording artist, songwriter, and investor. While an undergraduate at Harvard, he was discovered by Kanye West and Pharrell Williams. As a solo artist, D.A. is signed by Harvest Records, a subsidiary of Capitol Records, and he is the former artist-in-residence at Spotify, a company where he was an early investor. Beyond music, D.A. invests in and advises several start-up technology companies, including Synthego, Glypse Bio, Beam Therapeutics, SpaceX, Ripple. Forbes selected D.A. as one of its 30 Under 30, and Fast Company named him one of the 100 Most Creative People in Business. In 2015, he launched Inevitable Ventures, an investment partnership with multibillionaire Ron Burkle that supports radical entrepreneurs in areas including health care, life sciences, and financial technologies. He is also an advisor to The Dreamers Fund, a partnership with actor Will Smith.   Connect with D.A.: @dawallach Connect with John: @johncumbers Stay updated on the latest news in synthetic biology, check out our weekly newsletter and follow us on social media: Twitter | LinkedIn | Facebook Be sure you make it to SynBioBeta 2019 this October 1-3! Click here for more information.

Sep 2019

52 min 28 sec

Today John Cumbers talks with Tom Dierking, design director of transformational platform technologies at Procter & Gamble. John will be talking to Tom about his passion for transforming the consumer experience, Procter & Gamble’s revolutionary line of water-free products, and where he sees synthetic biology impacting the way that consumer brands do business.   Tom Dierking is the global design director of innovation capability at Procter & Gamble (P&G). He’s a passionate advocate of design and has been driving multidisciplinary innovation for over 20 years. In leading innovation at one of the world’s top brands, Tom’s work touches the lives of millions of us. Tom is especially focused on design-inspired innovation and bringing new experiences to consumers. Tom works with Procter & Gamble’s senior leadership, leveraging design thinking on brands and company strategy initiatives, and delivering design-inspired changes to improve operations across the company. Thanks to Procter & Gamble (@ProcterGamble) for making this episode possible. Connect with Tom Connect with John: @johncumbers Stay updated on the latest news in synthetic biology, check out our weekly newsletter and follow us on social media: Twitter | LinkedIn | Facebook Be sure you make it to SynBioBeta 2019 this October 1-3! Click here for more information.

Sep 2019

38 min 28 sec

For the pictures John and Eben reference check out our website article (https://synbiobeta.com/synbiobeta-podcast-the-mycelium-revolution/)   Today John Cumbers talks with Eben Bayer, CEO and Co-Founder of the biomaterials company Ecovative. He’ll be talking with Eben about: Why mycelium is an ideal host not just for biochemical production but also biomaterials structuring.Eben’s conception of “bio adaptation”, and the relationship of synthetic biology to “the good life.”What emerging products and markets he is most excited about these days, be it plastics, plant-based foods, or even the scaffolding for growing organs.   Ecovative is a world-leading biomaterials company that is adapting natural processes to create sustainable materials. Eben has evangelized a strategy of bio-adaptation around the world, including presentations at TED Global, PopTech, and Davos. Ecovative has been recognized as a Tech Pioneer by the World Economic Forum, for its potential impact on climate change by the Postcode Lottery Green Challenge, the EPA Environmental Quality Award, and the Buckminster Fuller Challenge for socially responsible design.   Thanks to Ecovative (@ecovative) for making this episode possible.   Connect with Eben: @ebanbayer Connect with John: @johncumbers Stay updated on the latest news in synthetic biology, check out our weekly newsletter and follow us on social media: Twitter | LinkedIn | Facebook Be sure you make it to SynBioBeta 2019 this October 1-3! Click here for more information.

Aug 2019

47 min 18 sec

Today John Cumbers talks with Ali Tamaseb, an investor at the venture firm DCVC. John will be talking to Ali about his technical strategy for finding super-founders, emerging challenges for founders, particularly in synthetic biology, and what emerging market he is most excited about these days.   Ali is an entrepreneur, a previous startup founder, and a highly technical academic researcher. Ali has walked in the shoes of the scientist-turned-entrepreneur, and has first-hand experience with the challenges they face. At DCVC, he works on a broad spectrum of areas ranging from computational health and bio to cybersecurity. Ali received his Biomedical Engineering degree from Imperial College London, and he also graduated from the SIGM program at Stanford Graduate School of Business. He did research in the fields of neuroscience and human-computer interaction. Ali was an honoree of the British Alumni Award, and Imperial College President’s Medal for Outstanding Achievement. His work has been featured in BBC, Guardian, Forbes, The Telegraph, TEDx, and others.   Thanks to DCVC (@DCVC) for making this episode possible.   Connect with Ali: @alitamaseb Connect with John: @johncumbers Stay updated on the latest news in synthetic biology, check out our weekly newsletter and follow us on social media: Twitter | LinkedIn | Facebook Be sure you make it to SynBioBeta 2019 this October 1-3! Click here for more information.

Aug 2019

33 min 50 sec

Today John Cumbers talks with Dr. Santanu Dasgupta, Senior Vice President and Head of Biology at Reliance Industries Limited. John will be talking to Santanu about why algae is a great engineering platform, Reliance’s role in India’s arts, culture, and urban renewal, and the challenges to building the synthetic biology community in India   Santanu has more than 25 years in biotechnology research experience in various leadership roles. He has led many breakthrough global agriculture biotechnology programs, and has contributed to the discovery of numerous plant traits. He’s the author of several peer-reviewed papers and is the inventor of more than twenty US patents in the area of pathogen resistance in plants, drought tolerance, gene expression, and improved algae. Santanu has also contributed papers in over 100 National and international meetings and symposium.   Thanks to Reliance for making this episode possible.   Connect with Santanu: https://in.linkedin.com/in/santanudasgupta Connect with John: @johncumbers Stay updated on the latest news in synthetic biology, check out our weekly newsletter and follow us on social media: Twitter | LinkedIn | Facebook Be sure you make it to SynBioBeta 2019 this October 1-3! Click here for more information.

Aug 2019

39 min 30 sec

Today John Cumbers talks to Dr. Christina Agapakis, biologist, writer, artist, and Creative Director at Ginkgo Bioworks. John will be talking to Christina about the role of creativity and design in biotechnology, what are Ginkgo’s top aims in terms of technology and its culture, and what kinds of opportunities she is most excited about today.   Christina serves as creative director at Ginkgo Bioworks, an organism design company that is bringing biology to industrial engineering. In that role, she collaborates with engineers, designers, artists, and social scientists to explore the many unexpected connections between microbiology, technology, art, and popular culture. Her graduate work at Harvard focused on producing hydrogen fuel in bacteria and making photosynthetic animals. She has taught designers at the Art Center College of Design and biomolecular engineers at UCLA, and once made cheese using bacteria from the human body. She is a prolific writer on biology, technology, and culture for a number of outlets. She’s also a founding editor of Method Quarterly, a magazine about science in the making.   Thanks to Ginkgo (@ginkgo) for making this episode possible.   Connect with Christina: @thisischristina Connect with John: @johncumbers Stay updated on the latest news in synthetic biology, check out our weekly newsletter and follow us on social media: Twitter | LinkedIn | Facebook Be sure you make it to SynBioBeta 2019 this October 1-3! Click here for more information.

Aug 2019

41 min 17 sec

Today John Cumbers talks to Dr. Jenny Rooke, the founder and Managing Director of Genoa Ventures, and one of Silicon Valley’s leading venture capitalists in the synthetic biology industry. John will be talking to Jenny about how VCs assess the value and potential of firms, what it takes to start your own VC firm, and what kinds of opportunities she is most excited about today.   For over a decade, Jenny has been deploying capital at the frontiers of life sciences innovation, seeking out technology-fueled solutions and category-defying opportunities. Jenny began her venture career at Fidelity Biosciences. At the Gates Foundation, she managed $250M in project funding in genetic engineering, diagnostics, and synthetic biology. In 2018, Jenny founded her own firm, Genoa Ventures, building on her successful track record.   Thanks to Genoa Ventures for making this episode possible.   Connect with Jenny: Connect with John: Stay updated on the latest news in synthetic biology, check out our weekly newsletter and follow us on social media: Twitter | LinkedIn | Facebook Be sure you make it to SynBioBeta 2019 this October 1-3! Click here for more information.

Jul 2019

33 min 12 sec

Today John Cumbers talks to Ursheet Parikh, partner at Mayfield and leader of their biotechnology and health care portfolios. The conversation is about what it takes to scale synthetic biology companies, some of the challenges they face, and how platform technologies in synthetic biology can help float all boats.   Ursheet is a proven repeat entrepreneur and executive who brings 15 years of product and leadership experience to the investment team at Mayfield. He focuses on innovation that is redefining the application and infrastructure stacks in cloud, mobile, enterprise technologies, genomics and digital health.   Ursheet’s current investments include Cloud Genix, Mission Bio, Mammoth Biosciences, Netsil, Qventus, Rancher Labs, Shiftleft, Versa Networks, and Zipongo.   Prior to joining Mayfield, he was an extremely successful leading manager at Microsoft and Cisco.   Thanks to Mayfield for making this episode possible.   Connect with Ursheet: Connect with John: Stay updated on the latest news in synthetic biology, check out our weekly newsletter and follow us on social media: Twitter | LinkedIn | Facebook Be sure you make it to SynBioBeta 2019 this October 1-3! Click here for more information.

Jul 2019

43 min 24 sec

Today John Cumbers talks to Alexandre Zanghellini, co-founder and CEO of Arzeda about Protein Design 101. Alex leads Arzeda’s product and technology development and IP strategy. He’s an inventor of Arzeda’s platform for computational protein design and more recently also branched into computational metabolic pathway design. Alex will introduce protein design, discuss automation and technical advancement, touch on a few applications, and the potential of protein design to improve the world and bring new products to market.   Thanks to Arzeda for making this episode possible.   Connect with Alex: Connect with John: Stay updated on the latest news in synthetic biology, check out our weekly newsletter and follow us on social media: Twitter | LinkedIn | Facebook Be sure you make it to SynBioBeta 2019 this October 1-3! Click here for more information.

Jul 2019

41 min 53 sec

John Cumbers talks to Ben Kellogg about telling a compelling synthetic biology story. Ben is the founder of BWK, an award-winning PR consulting firm representing clients like TED, MIT, Modern Meadow and Culture Biosciences. As the PR partner to TED’s Fellowship program, BWK works directly with the 400+ TED Fellows including scientists, technologists, artists and entrepreneurs. Ben graduated from Yale with a degree in English and has a decade of experience advising executives and entrepreneurs on their PR communications strategy. Connect with Ben: Connect with John: Stay updated on the latest news in synthetic biology, check out our weekly newsletter and follow us on social media: Twitter | LinkedIn | Facebook Be sure you make it to SynBioBeta 2019 this October 1-3! Click here for more information.

Jul 2019

30 min 53 sec

The SynBioBeta Podcast is here! Subscribe now. Episode 1 debuts July 10th. Conversations with synthetic biology’s leading thinkers on building a better world with biology. The podcast is hosted by John Cumbers, founder and CEO of SynBioBeta, where tech meets bio and bio meets tech. Stay updated on the latest news in synthetic biology, check out our weekly newsletter and follow us on social media: Twitter | LinkedIn | Facebook Be sure you make it to SynBioBeta 2019 this October 1-3! Click here for more information.

Jul 2019

1 min 14 sec