Andrew Hessel

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About Me

I consult/network/evangelize synthetic biology technology and education, open source biology, the international Genetically Engineered Machines (iGEM) program, DIYbio, and open innovation models, with a focus on Canada. I am also faculty and co-chair of the biotechnology and bioinformatics track at the Singularity University.

My intention is to help develop a next-generation biotechnology industry – one that is better equipped to address major environmental, health, and manufacturing issues and deliver meaningful, effective, low-cost, and above all, safe and ethical and environmentally-friendly solutions. I believe life technologies represent a different class of human technology and constantly work to tear down barriers and increase communication. That's why I advocate open biology. (My Canadian side is showing, isn't it.)

I am not anti-industry. I believe there are massive fortunes to be made, in fact that biotechnology is likely to be among the main economic engines of this century. I'd just like to see the giants of biotech resemble Google more than Microsoft. (No offense Microsoft, you're terrific at what you do, but Google's business model fits better for programming DNA and metabolism.)

My days are flexible and fun-filled. I travel a lot. I give talks. I share a lot of stories. Sometimes I write, but this is hard for me. In general, I try to raise awareness of the emerging tools and technologies with everyone, even those opposed to them or afraid of them, facilitate introductions and connections, and help groups or regions find the money and other resources necessary to take real and practical steps. I sincerely enjoy helping people achieve their goals.

I believe we are going to learn more in the next 50 years than we did in the last 1000. I am not an expert on anything. What I have an open mind and (usually) a grin on my face.

I am picky about who I work with because I don't like to work. I would prefer to be on a beach but right now feel I can better serve humanity by engaging with the nascent biotech 2.0 industry and inspiring young, up-and-coming bioengineers. I don't need money or titles. I do need to meet people in person to trust them, though, and gladly accept plane tickets, hotel rooms, and meals in order to do so. I generally have a patronage appointment that covers my daily living expenses. Right now, I am supported by a consortium of energy companies genuinely interested in collaboration and innovating for sustainable development. (I know it's hard to believe, but I am on the inside. It's true.) Past patrons have been the Alberta Ingenuity Fund and the Alberta Research Council. I also work with MIT because I love and support the iGEM program. If you are interested in participating in or sponsoring this program, you will get a fast response if you email me.

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Business and Consulting

Pink Army Cooperative (open source biotech)

I am a co-founder, along with Jayson Tymko and John Carlson, of the world's first cooperative biotechnology company, the Pink Army Cooperative. Our inspiration is open source software successes like Apache and Linux that compete with billion-dollar software giants. We believe open source biotechnology can do the same with big pharma, and we're creating a community of professionals to build our own drug development company. We're focusing on breast cancer to start, and because we're structurally different than any other biotech or pharma, we can take novel approaches to making medicines. In fact, rather than use the conventional drug development "pipeline", famous for being slow and expensive, we're championing a new system that we believe will be able to produce safe, effective, and individually personalized medicines quickly and inexpensively today, and be faster and cost even less as further improvements are made.

Pink Army is growing quickly and is attracting more and more attention. We're always looking for passionate experts and supporters. Membership is $20, which gets you an equal share in the company. After this small investment, help us grow by sharing your unique talents. We're currently focusing on communications, web development, public relations, community-building, social networking, etc. but will soon be focusing more on the hardcore R&D.

For more information, check out the Pink Army website.

Q Squared Consulting Inc.

My consulting (and life) is managed through Q Squared, my Alberta-based consulting company, founded in 2009. Inquire for standard rates and availability.

I frequently describe my subconscious, highly parallelized thinking processes as "squirrels". These agents are skilled at seeing patterns in diverse information and finding unique paths forward to either enhance or change them. Q Squared also delights in collecting nuts – people with odd skills in everything from game theory, to information technologies, to various types of human performance and artistic expression. This stable can be configured and deployed quickly by Q Squared to brainstorm, collaborate, and participate. We're always looking for really big challenges, more savants, and unconventional ideas or experiences. Got any? Contact me.

Singularity University

Daniel Reda and I co-chair the Biotechnology and Bioinformatics track at Singularity University, which focuses on systems and synthetic biology. I am always looking for breakthrough ideas, activities, individuals and groups, etc. to share with the SU participants.

From the SU website

Singularity University (SU) is an interdisciplinary university whose mission is to assemble, educate and inspire a cadre of leaders who strive to understand and facilitate the development of exponentially advancing technologies in order to address humanity’s grand challenges. With the support of a broad range of leaders in academia, business and government, SU hopes to stimulate groundbreaking, disruptive thinking and solutions aimed at solving some of the planet’s most pressing challenges. SU is based at the NASA Ames campus in Silicon Valley.

Contact Information

email: ahessel (at) gmail (dot) com
phone: 780.868.3169
Skype: search for "Andrew Hessel", ahessel (at) gmail (dot) com

2009 Activities

Biomedical Engineering Distinguished Speakers Series, Energy & Environmental Engineering, University of Calgary, November 19, 2009

Singularity University Executive Program, November 6-15, 2009

The Drive to Innovate, Conoco-Phillips, Calgary, November 3, 2009

iGEM 2009, MIT, Cambridge, MA October 30 - November 2, 2009 (attending only)

BIL:PIL, Building a Drug Development Pipeline for Personalized, Open Source Therapies for Breast Cancer. San Diego, October 30, 2009

TEDMED, San Diego, Oct 27-30, 2009 (attend)

SENS4, Cambridge, UK, September 3-7, 2009

Swedish-American Life Science Summit, Bionetworking Sessions, Stockholm, Sweden August 19-21, 2009

Singularity University, Introduction to synthetic biology and applications, July 20-21, 2009

iGEM Ontario Regional, University of Waterloo, May 29, 2009

SciBarCamp 2009, Toronto, May 8-9, 2009

Oil Sands Leadership Initiative keynote and meeting, Calgary, April 15-16, 2009

2008 Talks, Conferences, Posters

Convergence 08, Panel Debate, Talk, November 15-16, 2008

iGEM Jamboree, MIT, Cambridge, MA, November 7-9, 2008 (Chairing iGEM Canada session)

Singularity Summit 2008, San Jose, CA, October 25, 2008 (attending)

UofC Engineering, Calgary, Sept 24, 2008 (Engineering Biology)

SciFoo, Mountain View, CA, August 8-10, 2008

BioBarCamp, Palo Alto, CA, August 6-7, 2008

Science Cafe, Telus World of Science and Alberta Ingenuity, Edmonton, May 6, 2008

Sanofi Aventis BioTalent Challenge Keynote, Calgary, April 23, 2008

Sanofi Aventis BioTalent Challenge Keynote, Edmonton, April 16, 2008

Civil Society Synthetic Biology Teach-In, Washington DC, April 14, 2008 PDF

TEC Edmonton, Open Source Therapeutics, round 2, March 31, 2008

TEC Edmonton, Open Source Therapeutics, March 19, 2008

Overview of iGEM program, Edmonton Catholic School Board, March 18, 2008

Open Source Therapeutics. UofA Digital Biology Meeting, March 17, 2008

National Post Article on SciBarCamp by David Sachs.

Synbio Debate w/ Jim Thomas, ETC group; open source therapeutics scibarcamp, Toronto, May 14-16, 2008

Synthetic Biology and Nanotechnology: Opportunities and Implications for Alberta, Green Paper and Talk, Banff, March 5-6, 2008

Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT), Overview of Synthetic Biology, February 2008.

2007 Talks and Posters

iGEM and Synthetic Biology: Opportunities for Canada, University of Ottawa, November 23, 2007 audio by request

SemBioSys Biotechnologies, Calgary, Alberta, October 26, 2007

Synthetic Biology, Risks, Rewards, and Opportunities, Cross Cancer Institute, Edmonton, October 23 audio by request

Synthetic Viruses Targeting Cancer, SENS 3, Cambridge UK, September 7Video

Overview of synthetic biology, University of Lethbridge, July 19

University of Alberta Department Chairs and Divisional Directors Meeting, July 4

SB3.0 Poster -- iGEM: A case study for open source biological engineering

MIT TTT Canada overview May 26 Video

Digital Genetic Engineering, Google, May 3 Video

Alberta Ingenuity, January 17/18