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American Museum of Natural History


Harvard Medical School

Owain Edwards photo Revive & Restore


CSIRO (Australia)




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 is a Vice President of Business Development at Ginkgo Bioworks. Prior to Ginkgo, she was Program Manager in the Biological Technologies Office (BTO) of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), where she leveraged the tools of synthetic biology and gene editing to enhance biosecurity, support the domestic bioeconomy, and outpace infectious disease. Her DARPA portfolio included the Living Foundries: 1000 Molecules, Safe Genes, Preemptive Expression of Protective Alleles and Response Elements (PREPARE), and Detect it with Gene Editing (DIGET) programs.

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Prior to joining DARPA, Renee led teams in private industry in the areas of biosecurity, gene therapies, emerging infectious disease, neuromodulation, synthetic biology, and diagnostics. Renee holds a Ph.D. and B.S. in Applied Biology from the Georgia Institute of Technology, was a Fellow in the Center for Health Security Emerging Leaders in Biosecurity Initiative (ELBI), and completed her postdoctoral training as an Alexander von Humboldt Fellow in Heidelberg, Germany.