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.
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. It makes sense, then, that 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 (un)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.
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.
Personally, I found SU to be a transformative experience and believe it represents an exciting new paradigm in education. As co-chair the Biotechnology and Bioinformatics track, I am always on the lookout for breakthrough ideas, activities, individuals and groups, etc. in systems and synthetic biology or related technologies. Email me if there's anything you think I should be aware of, if you are thinking of taking the graduate or executive program and have any questions, or if you want to be considered as a presenter.
email: ahessel (at) gmail (dot) com
Skype: search for "Andrew Hessel", ahessel (at) gmail (dot) com
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
Open Source Therapeutics. UofA Digital Biology Meeting, March 17, 2008
Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT), Overview of Synthetic Biology, February 2008.