Andrew Hessel

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. Co-author of the powerful new book, “The Genesis Machine: Our Quest to Rewrite Life in the Age of Synthetic Biology” (Public Affairs, February 2022) – with colleague and fellow futurist Amy Webb – Hessel is a biotech and life sciences visionary and a foremost authority on cell biology and synthetically engineered life.

As the catalyst 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 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.

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.