The Pittcon Program Committee is pleased to announce that Steven A. Benner, Distinguished Fellow at the Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution, will deliver the Capstone Lecture, "Redesigning DNA: Fixing God's Mistakes", during Pittcon 2012 which will be held in Orlando, Florida, from March 11-15, at the Orange County Convention Center. The lecture will take place on Wednesday, March 14, at 5:00 p.m., immediately followed by a complimentary mixer.
Steven A. Benner is a Distinguished Fellow at the Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution, which he founded following service on the faculty at Harvard University, the ETH Zurich, and the University of Florida. His research spans many fields in the physical sciences, information sciences, and natural history, more specifically in the emerging fields of synthetic biology, paleogenetics, evolutionary bioinformatics, and astrobiology. His laboratory invented several redesigned versions of DNA, evolution-based genome databases, some of the first compelling tools to predict protein folds, and models for the origin of life. His most recent book is entitled "Life, the Universe, and the Scientific Method."
When asked to describe his work, Benner stated, "We are synthetic biologists, in the sense that we synthesize DNA and other biological systems with altered structure. In part, we do this for technological goals: altered DNA is today revolutionizing DNA-targeted diagnostics, and is being used to construct of nanomachines." He added, "However, we also use synthesis to explore general theories about the connection between molecular structure and genetic function. This allows us to ask: What kinds of structures will be the "universal" in genes in the cosmos? This helps us search for life on Mars and Titan, and to develop experimental systems describing how life originated on Earth."
The 2012 President Jon Peace commented, "We are very pleased to have Steven Benner as our first Capstone Lecturer. Pittcon has always been a venue for discovery and for attracting the world's most renowned scientists in their field and strongly believe that he [Benner] will be an asset to our Technical Program."
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