Ben Lamm (left) and George Church, Co-founders of Colossal
“Since 2012 when George Church first proposed the audacious idea of bringing back the woolly mammoth, Revive & Restore has supported reviving woolly mammoths to help restore the vast Mammoth Steppe grasslands that in turn can help restore climate stability. We’re excited that Colossal is taking on the task of turning this ambitious idea into living reality. It is a world-class wildlife conservation project.”
Stewart Brand and Ryan Phelan
Co-founders, Revive & Restore
September 13, 2021
We are proud to have helped lay the foundation for the Woolly Mammoth Revival over the past nine years— and now is the time to pass the reins over to Colossal. This innovative start-up is committed to delivering on the original vision of the Woolly Mammoth Revival, which includes their future rewilding into their natural habitat. With Colossal’s entrepreneurial approach and their experience building commercial technology, they are well poised to deploy research and development efforts to meet the scale and complexity of this project.
Addressing bold conservation challenges in ways never before possible will take many people, many steps, and many years. As an Advisor to Colossal, we are excited to continue to share our knowledge and support of this grand vision.
Colossal, a bioscience and genetics company co-founded by world-renowned geneticist George Church, Ph.D., and technology entrepreneur Ben Lamm, is focused on rapidly advancing the field of species de-extinction. Using CRISPR and other genome editing technologies Colossal will pioneer a practical, working model of de-extinction to apply to the Woolly Mammoth and other species.
About the Colossal Team
George Church, Co-founder of Colossal
George Church is the Founding Core Faculty member and Platform Lead, 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.
Benn Lamm, Co-founder and CEO of Colossal
Ben Lamm is the Co-founder and CEO of Colossal. Ben is a serial technology entrepreneur driven to solve the most complex challenges facing our planet. For over a decade, Ben has built disruptive businesses that future-proof our world. In addition to leading and growing his own companies, he is passionate about emerging technology, science, space, and climate change. Active in angel investing, incubators, and startup communities, Ben invests in software and emerging tech and is deeply engaged in the technology, defense, and climate change communities.
Prior to Colossal, Ben served as the Founder and CEO to a number of companies, including Hypergiant, an enterprise AI software company focused on critical infractures, space, and defense; Conversable, the leading conversational intelligence platform that helps brands reach customers through automated experiences acquired by LivePerson; and Chaotic Moon, a global creative technology powerhouse acquired by Accenture. Ben was also the co-founder of Team Chaos, a consumer gaming company acquired by Zynga.
Ben is a fellow of the Explorer’s Club, whose mission is to promote the scientific exploration of land, sea, air, and space by supporting research and education in the physical, natural, and biological sciences. He also serves as a Scientific Advisory Board member on the Planetary Society and sits on the Advisory Board for the Arch Mission. Ben has appeared as a thought leader in many publications, including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Forbes, Entrepreneur, Wired, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and Newsweek on topics such as innovation, technology, and entrepreneurship.
Eriona Hysolli, Ph.D., Head of Biological Sciences at Colossal
Previously, she was a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of George Church, PhD., Harvard Medical School from 2015 – 2021, where she focused on developing and optimizing novel genetic tools for multiplex mammalian genome engineering including mammoth de-extinction and building a virus-resistance human cell line. Eriona graduated summa cum laude from Rutgers University with a double major in Neuroscience and German and a minor in Chemistry, then pursued graduate research at Yale University. At Yale, she studied the gene expression changes as human somatic cells transition to human embryonic stem-cell-like cells (iPSCs) that hold great potential in health and medicine. Eriona also studied how microRNAs modulate this process through epigenetic changes.
Eriona’s authored publications include characterizing different populations of human iPSCs arising during reprogramming, setting up a human cell-bacteria co-culture model to study how biocontainment can be exploited for probiotic development, and multiplex editing of TAG to TAA codons genome-wide in human cells. Unpublished work includes engineering mammoth traits in elephant cells, comprehensively characterizing via computational analysis all DNA changes that make mammoths different from extant elephants and visualizing ancient DNA in situ.
Colossal will continue Revive & Restore’s collaboration with Arctic rewilding scientists Sergey and Nikita Zimov of Pleistocene Park in Russia. They have conducted extensive climate modeling research aiming to understand the effects of rewilding megafauna on tundra ecosystems. Reintroduction into the Arctic tundra will allow the mammoths to reprise their historic role of ecosystem engineers by trampling mosses and shrubs, uprooting trees and disturbing the landscape, and grazing the steppe grasslands they are helping to bring back. All of those effects will help keep the carbon-rich permafrost frozen and contribute to new carbon sequestration. Allowing cold-adapted elephants to once again thrive in the Arctic will establish an important new avenue for wildlife restoration.