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In San Diego Talk, Venter Says Biofuels ‘Dead’ Without Carbon Policy

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superstorms like Hurricane Sandy continue to slam the nation.

So what does this mean for the work on algae-based biofuels at San Diego’s Synthetic Genomics, where Venter is the founding chairman and CEO? (Synthetic Genomics announced with considerable fanfare in 2009 that it had established a partnership with ExxonMobil, which planned to invest $600 million or more on the development of renewable, algae-based biofuels.)

“Oh, we’re still working on it,” Venter said.

Venter’s presentation was introduced by Larry Goldstein, director of the stem cell program at UC San Diego, who revealed that he has some of Venter’s brain cells growing in a dish in his laboratory. From a skin biopsy, Goldstein said researchers in his lab created a line of pluripotent neuronal stem cells. Venter later told the audience, “Larry told me my neurons are slowly taking over his labs, and I do feel my consciousness expanding.”

During his presentation Tuesday evening, the famed geneticist offered an overview of advances at the confluence of genomics, regenerative medicine, and synthetic biology. Venter drew audible gasps from some people in the audience as he highlighted some of the recent work underway at the nonprofit J. Craig Venter Institute and Synthetic Genomics, and the potential of new technologies. Venter has covered some of these topics elsewhere over the past month, most notably at The Atlantic Meets the Pacific forum in La Jolla and the Wired Health Conference in New York City. Those highlights include:

—One of the key conceptual advances in recent years, Venter said, is in thinking of DNA as the “software of life.” When scientists “read the genome” with today’s gene sequencing tools, he says the … Next Page »

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