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Building A Better Future With Biology

SynBioBeta x Leaps Talks

SynBioBeta and Leaps by Bayer both share a passion for building a better world with biology. At SynBioBeta 2020 they partnered up to shed light on a future with synthetic biology. We are happy to share some of sessions and Leaps Talks presented at this year's conference. 

The Microbiome: From decoding nature to biotech breakthoughs

Interest in the human microbiome—the ≈2 kilos and trillions of diverse bacteria that inhabit the large intestine—isn’t just hype or a natural healing trend. A significant uptick in basic science is studying the complex relationship between the microbiome, hormones, nervous and immune system, and beyond. While we turn insights into action, will interest in microbiome health fade or accelerate? We’ll look at the latest in microbiome research, explore our complex relationships with natural versus engineered treatments, and how the two might co-exist.


Stephanie Culler, Co-Founder and CEO, Persephone Biosciences, Inc., Zack Abbott, CEO, ZBiotics, Eric van der Helm, VP - Head of Synthetic Biology & Bioinformatics, SNIPR BIOME, Jasmina Aganovic, Entrepreneur in Residence, Ginkgo Bioworks, Jonathan Eisen, Professor, University of California, Davis, Lee Cooper, Director of Venture Investments, Leaps by Bayer, Ronie Schmelz, Counsel, Tucker Ellis LLP

10 Billion: Designing crop for the next generation

The convergence of tech and biology is bringing the day closer when the most affordable and delicious foods will also be good for our bodies and the planet. To achieve this, new R&D platforms are needed that put crop engineering into action at the scale and speed of the cloud.


Megan Molteni, Writer, WIRED, Ai Oikawa, CEO, AFINGEN, Cherie Ochsenfeld, Data Scientist, Pairwise, Derek Norman, VP Venture Investments, Leaps by Bayer

The Sea, The City, Outer Space: What is the next frontier for truly sustainable agriculture?

To nourish a growing population while safeguarding the health of our planet, tomorrow’s agriculture will need to look beyond maximizing yields and cropland. Fighting deforestation and climate change means looking towards truly disruptive approaches—from growing lettuce in Shanghai to tomatoes in the sea or protein labs that produce the finest cuts of filet mignon, or fresh salmon for the colonies of Mars. This session explores diversifying where and how we produce food while sustaining human and planetary health.


John Cumbers, Founder & CEO, SynBioBeta, Paimun Amini, Director of Investments, Leaps by Bayer, Luke Young, CEO, Agrisea, Jim Flatt, Co-Founder & CEO, Brightseed Bio, Liz Specht, Senior Scientist, Good Food Institute

Sustainability, Food Security, And The Climate: In conversation with Bayer's Matthias Berninger

Climate change and food security are inextricably linked, and as the world’s biggest agriculture company, Bayer has a special role in the response to these global challenges. SynBioBeta founder John Cumbers talks with Matthias Berninger, Senior Vice President of Sustainability & Public Affairs at Bayer, to explore the relationships among circularity, climate change, and food production. They’ll discuss emerging innovations, how we measure technical and societal progress, and the role of the synthetic biology community in partnership with government, NGO, investors, and public stakeholders in setting a course for the future.


John Cumbers, Founder & CEO, SynBioBeta, Matthias Berninger, Head of Public Affairs, Science & Sustainability, Leaps by Bayer

Dopamine, Disinformation, And The Ethics Of Technological Progress: A Leaps Talk with Tristan Harris

What happens when the technology of social media meets the biology of our minds?  In this fireside chat with SynBioBeta Founder, John Cumbers, Harris will explore how new technologies can have both positive and negative consequences on our lives.  How does this color the public conversation around solving global challenges like hunger, genetic disease, and climate change?


John Cumbers, Founder & CEO, SynBioBeta, Tristan Harris, President & Co-Founder, Center for Humane Technology

The Culture For Synthetic Biology And Moonshots For A Better World: A Leaps Talk with George Church, D. A. Wallach & Kira Peikoff

Available October 19th

In a time of global crises from health to climate, how can the scientific entrepreneurial engine drive better outcomes for society? How do we provide a return to investors, whilst maintaining healthy people and a healthy planet?  This conversation brings together a synthetic biology pioneer, an iconoclastic artist and investor, and a science journalist to explore moonshot thinking around grand challenges. We’ll explore the most promising biotech tools for future-proofing humanity, how start-ups can catalyze the process, and the obligations to ourselves and others as we develop a shared vision for our biological future. 


George Church, Professor, MIT & Harvard, D. A. Wallach, Co-Founder, Inevitable Ventures, Kira PeikoffEditor-in-Chief, LeapsMag

Leaps Talks

Leaps Talks bring together leading minds from distinct disciplines to discuss the ethics, opportunities, and challenges in biotech innovation and investment. Breakthroughs in biotech could change the world for better, yet raise important ethical questions that can’t be answered by scientists and investors alone. Leaps by Bayer believes it’s critical to engage society in this dialogue, and works with partners worldwide to stimulate these discussions.

Leaps by Bayer

Leaps Talks bring together leading minds from distinct disciplines to discuss the ethics, opportunities, and challenges in biotech innovation and investment. Breakthroughs in biotech could change the world for better, yet raise important ethical questions that can’t be answered by scientists and investors alone. Leaps by Bayer believes it’s critical to engage society in this dialogue, and works with partners worldwide to stimulate these discussions.

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