CATALYST SCIENCE FUND

The Catalyst Science Fund launched in 2018 with a 3-year pledge of $1 million annually from biotech company Promega. This fund is designed to hasten impactful innovations in conservation. That’s because a key barrier to the adoption of genomic solutions by the conservation community is the lack of success stories. To that end, we created the Catalyst Science Fund to support early-stage, transformative bio-science research and proof-of-concept projects.

DRIVING PROGRESS

Funds are allocated to drive progress across high value applications. These applications must be identified and vetted as ripe for achieving conservation benefits and must refine and target emerging biotechnologies. Projects and technologies are prioritized that cut-across and can impact multiple conservation challenges. The goal within each focus area is to progress and test technologies and solution viability, to understand and map out what additional work needs to be pursued, and to understand what approaches and areas are worth doubling down on to drive progress and achieve demonstrable impact.

Please note, the Catalyst Science Fund accepts only invited proposals. To be considered for invitation, follow these detailed guidelines.

Focus Areas

Each area of focus is outlined further in the Genetic Rescue Toolkit.

Spawning Coral Jamie Craggs Horniman Museum

Genomic Insight

A species’ genome can reveal ways to better manage populations, natural resources, and entire ecosystems.

Facilitated Adaptation

Desirable traits like drought resilience and disease resistance may help species thrive into the future.

Synthetic Alternatives

Cell culture and bio-engineering techniques have the potential to replace the use of wildlife products.

Invasive mouse with egg. Revive & Restore

Invasive Species

Disruptive non-native species are a difficult and costly problem that calls for innovative intervention.

Restoring Genetic Diversity

Maintaining viable genetic diversity is imperative for the health of shrinking wildlife populations.

Heath Hen Revive & Restore

De-Extinction

Modern biotechnology offers the potential to develop hybrid, ecologically functional proxies of lost species.

Bioethics

Revive & Restore is committed to advancing the science of genetics and biotechnology for conservation applications in a safe, open, and ethical manner. The existing and developing technologies of the genetic rescue tool kit have tremendous potential to address increasingly troubling threats to biodiversity. However, we must also be vigilant to protect against unintended consequences. Revive & Restore evaluates the potential biosecurity risks of all of our projects and, as necessary, seeks safeguards that address any ethical concerns that could be associated with the development and use of genetic technologies for wildlife conservation. All of our Catalyst Science Fund awardees will engage with our Bioethics and Biosecurity panel to receive expert advice on how to evaluate and reduce risks associated with their specific projects.

Catalyst Science Fund Program Manager

Bridget Baumgartner

Bridget Baumgartner works directly with research teams to advise on proposal submissions, help refine scope-of-work, establish milestones, oversee progress, and review deliverables. She also works closely with Revive & Restore leadership and the Catalyst Science Fund Advisory Council to develop the fund’s investment and grant strategy.

Bridget joined Revive & Restore in January 2019. Bridget brings five years of experience in program creation, development, and management as a contractor to the Biological Technologies Office at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). While at DARPA, Bridget was responsible for driving high-risk, high-reward research and development initiatives in synthetic biology. These were aimed at promoting the use of green technologies to solve big problems. Certain projects in her portfolio also involved counteracting the impacts of climate change and the loss of species diversity. Bridget holds a PhD in Cell and Molecular Biology from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, TX and a BS in Biochemistry from Stony Brook University of New York.

Advisory Council

George Amato
American Museum of Natural History

George Church
Harvard Medical School

Owain Edwards
CSIRO (Australia)

Anne Readel
Promega

Renee Wegrzyn
Science Advisor

Dr. George Amato is the Director of Conservation Genomics at the Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics at the American Museum of Natural History.  Dr. Amato led the organization of the Institute and was its first Director for twelve years.  In addition to administering this interdepartmental scientific program of more than 80 scientists, postdoctoral fellows and graduate students, Dr. Amato continues to conduct research in conservation genetics of endangered species.  He also serves as an adjunct professor at Columbia and Fordham Universities.
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Previous to joining the Museum, Dr. Amato spent seventeen years conducting conservation research and programs at the Wildlife Conservation Society, where he was the Director of Conservation and Science until 2005. Dr. Amato has lectured and published extensively on conservation strategies for endangered species, concentrating much of his work on the use of molecular analysis to determine conservation priorities and in developing forensic tools for monitoring the illegal trade in wildlife. Dr. Amato is involved in conservation issues on a global scale working on projects in Africa, Southeast Asia, South America and the Caribbean.  He received his B.S. from the University of Connecticut and M.S., M.Phil. and Ph.D. from Yale University.

Dr. George Church is the founding core faculty member and platform lead for synthetic biology at the Wyss Institute; professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School; and professor of health sciences and technology at Harvard and MIT. As the lead scientist of the Wyss Institute’s synthetic biology platform, George oversees the directed evolution of molecules, polymers, and whole genomes to create new tools with applications in regenerative medicine and bioenergy. Among his recent work at the Wyss Institute is the development of a technology for synthesizing whole genes, and potentially whole gene circuits, that is faster, more accurate, and significantly less expensive than current methods.
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Dr. Church is widely recognized for his innovative contributions to genomic science and his many pioneering contributions to chemistry and biomedicine. In 1984, he developed the first direct genomic sequencing method, which resulted in the first commercial genome sequence (the human pathogen, H. pylori). He helped initiate the Human Genome Project in 1984 and the Personal Genome Project in 2005. Dr. Church invented the broadly applied concepts of molecular multiplexing and tags, homologous recombination methods, and array DNA synthesizers. His many innovations have been the basis for a number of companies including Joule Unlimited, Inc. (solar fuels); LS9, Inc. (bio-petroleum); and Knome (full human genome sequencing).

Dr. Owain Edwards is the group leader for Environmental and Synthetic Genomics and the Synthetic Biology Future Platform’s domain leader in environment and biocontrol at CSIRO’s Centre for Environment and Life Sciences. Dr. Edwards obtained a BSc in Zoology from the University of Guelph in 1986. He was awarded his MSc in Entomology from the University of Missouri‐Columbia, USA, in 1989 and his PhD in Entomology from the University of California, Berkeley, USA, in 1994. Prior to joining CSIRO in 1998, Dr Edwards undertook postdoctoral studies at the University of Florida and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to study ecological and genetic factors controlling the establishment of natural enemies in classical biological control programs.Read More

Dr. Edwards’ research at CSIRO focused initially on the molecular basis of aphid-host plant interactions, then expanded to investigate molecular interactions of aphids with their environment more broadly – including epigenetic regulation of aphid polyphenism. Dr. Edwards continues to serve on the board of the International Aphid Genomics Consortium, and on advisory committees to many other invertebrate genomics consortia.  Building on his expertise in invertebrate genomics he leads a CSIRO research group in Environmental Genomics, which includes a research team focused on genetic pest control technologies. Most recently, Dr Edwards was given a leadership role in the development of CSIRO’s new Future Science Platform in Synthetic Biology. Within this platform, Dr Edwards oversees projects delivering environmental outcomes including gene drives for biological control, and engineering resistance/resilience into threatened ecosystems.

Dr. Anne Readel is the Senior Associate General Counsel for Promega Corporation, a global biotechnology company. Prior to joining Promega, Dr. Readel was a patent litigator at Perkins Coie, where she represented companies in high-stakes litigation in the life sciences and biotechnology fields.  She has also held several positions with federal government agencies. As a law clerk at the U.S. Forest Service, she advised federal scientists on the commercialization of novel technologies related to forest products.  As a John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellow at the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, she helped develop policies related to oceans, the Great Lakes, and offshore energy.
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Dr. Readel received a J.D. from the University of Wisconsin. She received a Ph.D. in Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation Biology and a B.S. in Animal Sciences from the University of Illinois. Her doctoral research focused on habitat variation and the health and conservation of reptiles and amphibians.

Dr. Renee Wegrzyn has a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology and Bioengineering and a B.S. in Biology from Georgia Institute of Technology. Her full C.V. is available here.