Hillson’s Tech Transfer Successes Earn a 2013 Director’s Award

May 30, 2013

JBEI’s Director of Synthetic Biology Nathan Hillson has been named a recipient of the 2013 Director’s Awards for Exceptional Achievement.

A biophysicist, Hillson was recognized in the Technology Transfer category for entrepreneurism and development of relationships with industry.

While at JBEI, he has led the development of several patented and patent-pending innovations and founded TeselaGen Biotechnology, a start-up company that is commercializing his JBEI research.

“This award came as a very pleasant surprise,” said Hillson. “It shows that Berkeley Lab values and actively supports transferring its successes to the commercial sector as part of an overall strategy to increase its public benefit and economic impacts.”

In October 2011, Berkeley Lab Director Paul Alivisatos established the annual awards program to honor exceptional achievements by LBNL employees in advancing the Lab’s mission and strategic goals. Honorees will be acknowledged at a future Lab awards ceremony and reception.

Hillson joined JBEI in 2009. He is perhaps best known for developing “j5”, a software program that automates the design of cost-effective DNA construction strategies.

Along with two former Stanford colleagues, Hillson founded TeselaGen in 2011 to commercialize j5 as part of a biological computer-aided design and manufacture platform that enables industrial biotechnology companies to accelerate their products to market.

In his research group, Hillson also directs the development of freely open-source software including ICE, a cloud-based repository for DNA sequences, microbial strains, and plant seeds; and PR-PR, a biology-friendly robot-programming language that allows researchers to make better use of robotic and microfluidic devices.