Andrew Hessel

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Futurist and Trailblazer in Biological Technologies; Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director, Genome Project-write; Founder and President, Humane Genomics Inc.

Biography

Imagine being able to genetically engineer any plant, animal, or microbe on Earth and use this capability to create everything from print-on-demand drug treatments, to designer organisms impossible for nature to evolve, to re-booted versions of extinct creatures. According to biotech visionary Andrew Hessel, that future is here now and growing more powerful every day at massive scale. As the foremost pioneer in this mission to synthetically engineer life, Hessel helps leading companies and investors understand the massive potential of what will be the most dramatic scientific breakthrough of the 21st century, and perhaps in history. And in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, his extensive research on viruses enabled him to, with colleagues, design a plan to prevent the next biological war.

As the catalyst and co-executive director of the Genome Project-write (GPW) – also known as the Second Human Genome Project which has grown into an international movement with hundreds of like-minded scientists, engineers, and policymakers working to advance the forefront of genome engineering – Hessel communicates the transformational possibilities for every conceivable industry. GPW will be far more revolutionary than the first genome project because it lays the technical and societal foundations for responsible designer life.

A former researcher with Amgen and Autodesk, Hessel is the founder and president of the startup Humane Genomics, a seed-stage therapeutics company developing customized “3D-printed” medicines for one patient at a time. He calls this the “Netflix” approach, as opposed to the “one-size-fits-none” Blockbuster approach to medicine-making. As the technology for designing and building life continues to advance, even synthetic human genomes will soon come within reach. This merging of computer science and life will transform the world and potentially solve many of the greatest problems humanity faces this century. But these benefits come with some real and very scary risks that are far from being understood or mitigated. Currently, Hessel is working on a new book about genomes and the next wave of disruptive innovation with leading futurist Amy Webb.

Hessel speaks widely on topics that include cells as programmable living factories, viruses as an emerging software industry, and how to achieve effective biological safety and security. He customizes his presentations for each audience, revealing how his groundbreaking research will be significant to all organizations.

Andrew Hessel is available to advise your organization via virtual and in-person consulting meetings, interactive workshops and customized keynotes through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.

Videos

Books & Research

Media

Andrew Hessel | Engineering Viruses to Fight Cancer (Audio)

June 5, 2020

CNN logo

The Next Pandemic Could Be Even Worse

April 29, 2020

ars technica

Printing Vaccines at the Pharmacy or At Home Will Be the Way of the Future

June 20, 2019

Emerging Biotech Industry & Its Talent Implications

April 1, 2019

The Business of Your DNA (Audio)

March 27, 2019

Technologies Are Agnostic. It's All About Human Intention

March 18, 2019

Forbes logo

The Biotech Innovation That Will Transform Society Has Arrived (Hint: It's Not CRISPR)

October 18, 2018

Biotech CEO: Genomics World to Get 'A Lot Weirder'

October 9, 2018

Who Will Be the Google of Genomics?

August 23, 2018

Technology + Biology = The Face of the Next IT Industry

May 10, 2018

Wired logo

The Next Best Version of Me: How to Live Forever

March 27, 2018

The Human Operating System Gets an Overhaul

February 1, 2018

Can Biohacking Cure Cancer, or Lead to Personalized Medicines?

September 29, 2017

Synthetic Biology (Audio)

August 24, 2017

Money is Still Missing as the Plan to Synthesize a Human Genome Takes Another Step Forward

May 8, 2017

Wired logo

Humans 2.0: These Geneticists Want to Create an Artificial Genome by Synthesizing Our DNA

February 26, 2017

Writing the First Human Genome by 2026 Is Synthetic Biology’s Grand Challenge

October 10, 2016

Exponential Medicine: The Most Advanced Nanotechnology Today Is Already Inside You

November 13, 2015

Forbes logo

3D Printed Virus To Attack Cancer Cells

October 29, 2014

Wired logo

Meet the Biologist Hacking 3D Printed Cancer-Fighting Viruses

October 16, 2014

The Gigaom Interview: Why Synthetic Biology & the Netflix Model Are the Future of Medicine

May 3, 2014

A-Z Name

Hessel, Andrew

Biography

Imagine being able to genetically engineer any plant, animal, or microbe on Earth and use this capability to create everything from print-on-demand drug treatments, to designer organisms impossible for nature to evolve, to re-booted versions of extinct creatures. According to biotech visionary Andrew Hessel, that future is here now and growing more powerful every day at massive scale. As the foremost pioneer in this mission to synthetically engineer life, Hessel helps leading companies and investors understand the massive potential of what will be the most dramatic scientific breakthrough of the 21st century, and perhaps in history. And in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, his extensive research on viruses enabled him to, with colleagues, design a plan to prevent the next biological war.

As the catalyst and co-executive director of the Genome Project-write (GPW) – also known as the Second Human Genome Project which has grown into an international movement with hundreds of like-minded scientists, engineers, and policymakers working to advance the forefront of genome engineering – Hessel communicates the transformational possibilities for every conceivable industry. GPW will be far more revolutionary than the first genome project because it lays the technical and societal foundations for responsible designer life.

A former researcher with Amgen and Autodesk, Hessel is the founder and president of the startup Humane Genomics, a seed-stage therapeutics company developing customized “3D-printed” medicines for one patient at a time. He calls this the “Netflix” approach, as opposed to the “one-size-fits-none” Blockbuster approach to medicine-making. As the technology for designing and building life continues to advance, even synthetic human genomes will soon come within reach. This merging of computer science and life will transform the world and potentially solve many of the greatest problems humanity faces this century. But these benefits come with some real and very scary risks that are far from being understood or mitigated. Currently, Hessel is working on a new book about genomes and the next wave of disruptive innovation with leading futurist Amy Webb.

Hessel speaks widely on topics that include cells as programmable living factories, viruses as an emerging software industry, and how to achieve effective biological safety and security. He customizes his presentations for each audience, revealing how his groundbreaking research will be significant to all organizations.

Andrew Hessel is available to advise your organization via virtual and in-person consulting meetings, interactive workshops and customized keynotes through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.

Speech Topics

Engineering Life: How Biology Will Be the Defining Science of the 21st Century

The revolutionary technology of the 20th century was digital: the computer and the internet radically changed the way we live, learn, and work. Andrew Hessel says the next leap forward will be far more fundamental; we will be able to synthetically engineer every single species on earth. Following the success of reading the human genome, Hessel is on the cutting edge of writing it. A leading futurist, Hessel presents a vision of how we will all be impacted by the scientific ability to engineer organisms, ensuring greater biological security for all forms of life. As today’s executives focus on existing technology, innovation, and competitiveness in the present, Hessel stands firmly in the future, translating the scientific breakthroughs of tomorrow into economic impacts and implications for businesses. Just as the digital revolution impacted and transformed every business in the world, so too will every industry be subject to the revolution in bioengineering.

Human Bioengineering: The Realization of Personalized Medicine

With more mysteries of the human genome solved, scientists can now embark upon biology’s next frontier: engineering synthetic human genomes. As DNA design, synthesis and assembly technologies advance, Andrew Hessel believes this is future is possible not in the distant future, but within the decade. Already, smaller synthetic genomes are within reach and changing health care, he explains. By synthesizing disease-fighting viruses, we can make cancer a manageable disease. And more broadly, the “one-size-fits-none” method of mass drug manufacturing will give way to personalized medicines, allowing doctors to customize therapies.

In this presentation, Hessel explains how scientists can synthesize DNA to revolutionize drug production and treatment, in language that is easily relatable to a non-scientific audience. Likening the breakthrough to the disruption of the digital economy, he asserts that the “Blockbuster” drug industry of mass retail will give way to a “Netflix” model of personalized streaming of medicines. Scientists increasingly have the means to develop new technologies in conjunction with doctors and medical professionals to optimize individual treatments. Hessel has a clear vision for translating the data about human biology into life-saving action.

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