Scientific Advisory Board

Sapphire Energy is honored to have a scientific advisory board with members who represent some of the most innovative academics across key scientific and engineering disciplines, including chemistry, molecular biology, plant biology, biotechnology, and chemical engineering. The advisory board plays an active role advising Sapphire as it refines its developmental process and technologies for making algae-based omega oil and protein.

Leroy Hood, MD PhD (Chair) President and Co-founder, Institute for Systems Biology
Seattle, Washington

Dr. Hood is a pioneer in the systems approach to biology and medicine. His research has focused on the study of molecular immunology, biotechnology and genomics. Dr. Hood’s professional career began at Caltech, where he and his colleagues developed the DNA gene sequencer and synthesizer and the protein synthesizer and sequencer––four instruments that paved the way for the successful mapping of the human genome and lead to him receiving the 2011 Fritz J. and Delores H. Russ Prize awarded by the Academy of Engineering for automating DNA sequencing that revolutionized biomedicine and forensic science. A pillar in the biotechnology field, Dr. Hood has played a role in founding more than fourteen biotechnology companies, including Amgen, Applied Biosystems, Darwin, The Accelerator and Integrated Diagnostics. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. Of the 6,000+ scientists world-wide who belong to one or more of these academies, Dr. Hood is one of only fifteen people accepted to all three. He is also a member of the American Philosophical Society and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

His work has been widely published, and he has coauthored numerous textbooks in biochemistry, immunology, molecular biology and genetics, as well as a popular book on the human genome project, The Code of Codes. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Lasker Award for Studies of Immune Diversity, the Kyoto Prize in advanced technology, the Heinz Award for pioneering work in Systems Biology, and most recently, the coveted NAE 2011 Fritz J. and Delores H. Russ Prize for automating DNA sequencing that revolutionized biomedicine and forensic science.  In addition to having received 17 honorary degrees from prestigious universities in the US and abroad, Dr. Hood has published more than 700 peer reviewed articles and currently holds 34 patents. 

Roger Y. Tsien Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Professor in the Depts. of Pharmacology and of Chemistry & Biochemistry
University of California, San Diego

 Roger Y. Tsien, born in 1952, received his A.B. in Chemistry and Physics from Harvard College in 1972. He received his Ph.D. in Physiology in 1977 from the University of Cambridge and remained as a Research Fellow until 1981. He then became an Assistant, Associate, then full Professor at the University of California, Berkeley. In 1989 he moved to the University of California, San Diego, where he is an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Professor in the Depts. of Pharmacology and of Chemistry & Biochemistry. He was a scientific co-founder of Aurora Biosciences Corporation (1996), which went public in 1997 (ABSC) and was acquired by Vertex Pharmaceuticals in 2001 (VRTX) for approx. $600M. He was also a scientific co-founder of Senomyx Inc. in 1998, which went public in 2004 (SNMX). His honors include First Prize in the Westinghouse Science Talent Search (1968), Searle Scholar Award (1983), Artois-Baillet-Latour Health Prize (1995), Gairdner Foundation International Award (1995), Award for Creative Invention from the American Chemical Society (2002), Heineken Prize in Biochemistry and Biophysics (2002), Wolf Prize in Medicine (shared with Robert Weinberg, 2004), Rosenstiel Award (2006),  E.B. Wilson Medal of the American Society for Cell Biology (shared with M. Chalfie, 2008), and Nobel Prize in Chemistry (shared with O. Shimomura and M. Chalfie, 2008). He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society. Dr. Tsien is best known for designing and building molecules that either report or perturb signal transduction inside living cells. These molecules, created by organic synthesis or by engineering naturally fluorescent proteins, have enabled many new insights into signaling via calcium, sodium, pH, cyclic nucleotides, nitric oxide, inositol polyphosphates, membrane and redox potential changes, protein phosphorylation, active export of proteins from the nucleus, and gene transcription. He is now developing new ways to target contrast agents and therapeutic agents to tumor cells based on their expression of extracellular proteases. 

Steve Briggs, PhD Distinguished Professor of Cell & Developmental Biology
University of California, San Diego

Steve Briggs conducts research on the innate immunity of photosynthetic organisms, including plants and algae. Briggs develops and applies proteome-wide mass spectrometry methods to discover signaling networks. Before moving to UCSD in 2004, Briggs spent several years in industry at Pioneer/DuPont; Novartis; Syngenta; and Diversa. Since moving to UCSD, Briggs has co-founded two La Jolla-based companies: Sapphire Energy (algal biofuel) and JadeBio (proteomics services). Briggs serves as Co-Chair of the Biomass R&D Technical Advisory Committee that guides all federal research on biomass (including biofuels). Briggs is a Member of the National Academy of Sciences (USA) and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Stephen Mayfield, PhD Director of the San Diego Center for Algae Biotechnology, John Doves Isaacs Chair of Natural Philosophy
University of California, San Diego

Steve’s research focuses on the molecular genetics of green algae, and on the recombinant production of therapeutic proteins and biofuel molecules using algae as a production platform. Steve received BS degrees in Biochemistry and Plant Biology from Cal Poly State University in San Luis Obispo, and a PhD in Molecular Genetics from UC Berkeley.  Following a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Geneva Switzerland he returned to California as an assistant professor at the Scripps Research Institute where he was the first person to achieve transformation of the green algae C. reinhardtii nuclear genome, work that allowed this algae to become the dominant genetic organisms for the study of photosynthesis and gene function.  Steve remained at Scripps for 22 years becoming the Associate Dean of Biology before joining UC San Diego in 2009. Over the last ten years work from the lab has identified mechanisms of chloroplast gene expression that has allowed for recombinant protein expression and metabolic engineering in algal chloroplast.  Steve’s lab was the first to show high levels of recombinant protein expression in algae, setting the stage for the use of algae as a platform for recombinant protein production, including the expression of a human monoclonal antibody. These studies resulted in the founding of Rincon Pharmaceutical, a startup company based on the low cost production of human therapeutics using eukaryotic algae as an expression platform. Recent studies from the lab have shown the potential of engineering algae for the production of superior biofuel molecules as a source of renewal energy.  Steve is also a scientific founder of Sapphire Energy, a company developing biofuel production by metabolic engineering of algae and photosynthetic bacteria.

Dr. Matthew Croughan, Ph.D. George B. and Joy Rathmann Professor and Director of the Amgen Bioprocessing Center at Keck Graduate Institute (KGI)

Dr. Croughan was the George B. and Joy Rathmann Professor and Director of the Amgen Bioprocessing Center at Keck Graduate Institute (KGI). He founded the Bioprocessing focus track at KGI in 2006, and with the help of his colleagues at KGI and friends in industry who often serve as adjunct faculty, built it into one of the largest masters-level programs in bioprocessing, with approximately 100 graduates to date. It has a unique emphasis on recruiting and educating the next generation of business leaders in bioprocessing. He recently won the Student Choice Faculty (Top Teaching) Award for 2012-2013, and will keep a 1-day per month appointment at KGI as Industry Professor while serving as CTO at Sapphire. Since 1998, Dr. Croughan has also worked as an independent consultant providing expert guidance on biopharmaceutical and biofuels process development and manufacturing to over fifty five firms.

Previously, Dr. Croughan was the chief scientist for Genentech’s cell culture facility in Vacaville, CA, built for the production of therapeutic antibodies. Earlier in his career at Genentech, he developed the first licensed fed-batch cell culture process, a breakthrough platform technology now used throughout the biopharmaceutical industry, especially for the economical production of high-dose blockbuster antibodies. Dr. Croughan has a Ph.D. from MIT and a BS from UC Berkeley, both in chemical engineering.

H. Scott Fogler Ame and Catherine Vennema professor of chemical engineering Arthur F. Thurnau professor
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Scott was the 2009 President of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. He received his B.S. from the University of Illinois and his M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Colorado. He is also the author of the Elements of Chemical Reaction Engineering, which is the dominant book in this area worldwide, and co-author with Steven LeBlanc of the book Strategies for Creative Problem Solving.

Scott and his students are well known for their work on the application of chemical reaction engineering principles to the petroleum industry They have published over 200 research articles, in an areas such as acidization of petroleum wells, gellation kinetics wax deposition in subsea pipelines and asphaltene flocculation and deposition kinetics. In 1996 he was recipient of the Warren K. Lewis award from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers for contributions to chemical engineering education. He is the recipient of 11 named lectureships.

Dennis Fenton, PhD Distinguished Microbiologist and Research Scientist, Former Executive Vice President, Amgen

Dennis Fenton was granted a PhD in Microbiology from Rutgers University. He joined Pfizer Central research, working in New Product Development from 1977 – 1981. He joined Amgen at its inception in 1982 as a Research Scientist. During his 26 year career, he held positions of increasing responsibility, including Vice President of Research, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing, and Senior Vice President of Operations. He was Amgen’s first Executive Vice President. He holds 5 US patents in microbiology and published over 50 papers and abstracts. He retired from Amgen in 2008 and is currently an independent consultant and a member of the boards of Kythera, Xenoport, Hospira, Dendreon, Napo, Rugters University, Scripps Research Institute and the Keck graduate Institute.

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