Prestigious award to Yale lab to be paid in DNA

Farren Isaacs, assistant professor of molecular, cellular, and developmental biology and a researcher in the Systems Biology Institute at West Campus, has been awarded a million base pairs of synthetic DNA after being selected as the 2014 Gen9 G-prize winner.

Farren Isaacs, left, and Adrian Haimovich

The DNA, manufactured by Gen9 Incorporated, is worth $500,000 and represents the single largest award of synthetic DNA ever granted from a commercial entity to an individual research lab.

“Winning this award allows us to immediately test a series of exciting ideas on protein-protein interactions that are critical for signaling, regulation, and onset of disease,” Isaacs said. “Simply put, this project would not have been possible without the generous contribution of this synthetic DNA.”  

Last year, Isaacs’s lab notably rewrote an entire genome — the set of hereditary instructions for building, running and maintaining an organism.  The Gen9 prize,  equivalent in size to a bacterial genome, will be used to uncover new properties of biological systems that can be applied to address global challenges in medicine, energy supply, and the environment.

Isaacs gives much of the credit for this award to a member of his lab, Adrian Haimovich, a M.D.-Ph.D. student with the Medical Scientist Training Program.

“I am fortunate to work with such gifted and creative students, like Adrian,” Isaacs said, adding, “and we would not have won this award without his hard work and terrific ideas.”

The G-Prize contest, exclusively sponsored by Gen9, was launched to foster creative and innovative approaches for using synthetic DNA to advance industries, including chemical and enzyme production, biofuels, pharmaceuticals, and data storage.