December 1, 2014. Matthew Carrigan, Steven Benner, and their colleagues at the Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution recently resurrected proteins that oxidize alcohol in the digestive tracts of now-extinct primates dating back some 80 million years. The behaviors of these ancient proteins suggest that our primate ancestors acquired the ability to metabolize digested alcohol at the same time as they descended from the trees to walk on the ground, where they could pick up fruit that had fallen, suffered damage to its husk, and therefore became infected with fermenting yeast. The Science magazine news piece can be found here.
September 22, 2014. Japanese television described last week work being done at the Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution on the role of minerals and their elements on the origin of life on earth, the potential for life elsewhere in the solar system.
May 4, 2014. At 7:00 PM on May 22, Steven Benner will be presenting a public lecture
in Seattle (Kane Hall), on the subject: Finding Alien Life. On Earth, on Mars, and throughout the Cosmos.
The event is free and open to the public. Pre-registration is encouraged
to guarantee seating.
Abstract: How do we define "life"? This fundamental question has
remained largely philosophical, because it has been asked for so long,
by so many, and with so few concrete conclusions. In this talk, Dr.
Benner will take a different tack. He will show how laboratory studies
to create a second example of life help us develop a firmer scientific
understanding of what life is. The challenge of "synthetic biology" is
on! Dr. Benner will discuss how we are hitchhiking on rockets, rovers,
and telescopes to find life elsewhere in the Solar System, and will
describe how his research team is working to develop that second example
of life in laboratories here on Earth, one step at a time.
March 21, 2014. Steven Benner, Distinguished Fellow at the FfAME, will give
the "Beyond Lecture" at Arizona State University, Neeb Hall, at 7:30 PM.
Previous lecturers have included the biologist Richard Dawkins,
physicist Freeman Dyson, and Nobel Laureate Frank Wilczek. Afterwards,
Dr. Benner will sign copies of his book "Life, the Universe, and the
For more information, visit the ASU Beyond website or see Synthetic biologist to discuss creating life in the lab at ASU lecture.
January 24, 2014. FfAME scientists announced in December the joining of
its artificial genetic system with Darwinian evolution. Stuart Dambrot
reviews this work for the public at phys.org.
January 17, 2014. Science magazine has just reviewed recent work at the Foundation on the need for dry land as a venue for the origin of life.
November 17, 2013. Steven Benner and Bill Nye ("The Science Guy") will be presenting
comments at 1:00 PM and 2:00 PM about Monday's launch of the MAVEN
mission to Mars. The event will take place at the Kennedy Space Center
on Sunday, November 17, and is open to the public.