Dr. Yasuo Yoshikuni has been head of the DNA Synthesis Science Program since 2015. The mission of this program is to harness the power of DNA synthesis, strain engineering, and biosystems design for DOE-mission-relevant discovery and applications. This program has supported over 250 projects since it started. In the JGI, Dr. Yoshikuni also manages the Synthetic Biology Pathway Engineering group. His research focus includes engineering of non-model yeasts for production of biofuels and renewable chemicals, developing genome engineering tools for non-model organisms, modulating microbe-microbe and plant-microbe interactions in various environments to improve crop yield, and developing a platform for building composite materials. Before joining the JGI, Dr. Yoshikuni was co-founder and chief science officer at a clean technology startup, Bio Architecture Lab, Inc. (BAL), where his significant achievement was using systems and synthetic biology to discover novel pathways assimilating unique sugar polymers in macroalgae and developing the first microbial platform technologies unlocking the potential of macroalgae as an environmentally sustainable and cost-effective biomass for production of renewable fuels and chemicals. The development of this technology allowed the company to build a strong IP proposition and to raise ~$40 million from venture capitalists, receive prestigious national grants (ARPA-E, CORFO), and build a commercial partnership with leading companies in the oil and chemical industries (e.g., Statoil, DuPont).
- B.E. in Biological Science and Technology, Tokyo University of Science, Japan (summa cum laude)
- Ph.D. in Bioengineering, University of California, Berkeley
- Postdoctoral training in Biochemistry, University of Washington
- R&D100 Award finalist 2019
- SIMB Young Investigator Award 2013
- Sustainable Biofuels Awards, Green Shoots Award 2012
- Jane Coffin Childs Memorial Fund, Fellow 2007-2008
- Editorial board member of Synthetic Biology (Oxford Journal)
- Review committee member of International Journal of Molecular Sciences and Frontiers in Chemical Engineering
- Ke et al., 2021 CRISPR-CRAGE enables rapid activation of secondary metabolite biosynthetic gene clusters in bacteria, Cell Chemical Biology, accepted
- K. Bowman et al., 2020, Bidirectional titration of yeast gene expression using a pooled CRISPR guid RNA approach, PNAS 117, 18424-18430
- Wang et al. GRAGE enables rapid activation of biosynthetic gene clusters in undomesticated bacteria, Nature Microbiology,12:2498-2510
- M. M. Stoffel et al. 2019, Four amino acids define the CO2 binding pocket of enoyl-coA carboxylases/reductases, PNAS 2019, 116:13964-13969
- Mukherjee e. al. 2017, 1003 reference genomes of bacterial and archaeal isolates expand coverage of the tree of life, Nature Biotechnology 35, 676-683
- B. Siegel et al. 2015. Computational protein design enables a novel one-carbon assimilation pathway, PNAS 112, 11, 3704-3709.
- Enquist-Newman et al. 2014. Efficient ethanol production from brown macroalgae sugars by a synthetic yeast platform, Nature 505, 239-243.
- N. S. Santos et al. 2013. Implementation of stable and complex biological systems through recombinase-assisted genome engineering Nature Communications, 4, 2503.
- Wargacki et al. 2012. An engineered microbial platform for direct biofuel production from brown macroalgae, Science 335, 308-313.
- Yoshikuni et al. 2006. Designed divergent evolution of enzyme function, Nature 440, 1078-1082.