Leonardo Rios Solis was awarded a 2015 and 2016 UC MEXUS-CONACYT Postdoctoral Fellowship to conduct a research stay under the guidance of Professor Jay Keasling at UC Berkeley’s Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI). He also received the Monarch Award for the best postdoctoral proposal submitted to the 2016 competition. Rios’ work aims to genetically engineer yeast to find new ways of producing pharmaceuticals such as the anti-cancer drug Taxol. One of the most powerful and most commonly used anticancer drugs on the market today, Taxol was originally extracted from yew trees of the species Taxus Brevifolia. Unfortunately, current production methods of Taxol are unsustainable and create supply problems that have limited its use. Rios is engineering microbial strains to produce natural compounds from plants, which would represent a sustainable production alternative and might increase global access to this critical drug.
Although Rios’ research background is in biochemical engineering, his work can be best characterized as synthetic biology, a new interdisciplinary field of science combining biology and engineering to design and assemble useful biological components and compounds. These discoveries can eventually bring the cost of life saving drugs down, and develop entirely new therapies to treat some of the world's most debilitating diseases. To contact Dr. Rios Solis, please contact him at email@example.com.