Collaboration Is Key to Colossal Biosciences' Goal to Save the Planet

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Saving the world looks easy when a superhero does it in a graphic novel or blockbuster movie. In real life, it's an enormous task and not one to be taken lightly — or alone. Cue Colossal Biosciences entering the chat and assembling a team of the brightest minds available to join the quest to keep Earth viable and livable.

At this very minute, Earth is going through a period of mass extinction — the sixth, according to scientists worldwide, who estimate that by 2050, somewhere between 40% and 50% of all species could be wiped out. Colossal Biosciences, a genetic engineering and de-extinction company, believes that the most effective way to fight extinction is through de-extinction — literally. It's working to revive the long-extinct woolly mammoth, Tasmanian tiger, and dodo, and by doing so, laying the groundwork to stop extinction altogether.  

 

Colossal Biosciences: ‘We've Worked Carefully and Diligently'

Colossal is led by serial entrepreneur Ben Lamm and well-respected geneticist George Church. The two co-founded Colossal Biosciences to not only revive extinct animals, but also to fight climate change. 

“We've worked carefully and diligently on assembling an advisory board of geneticists, bioethicists, scientists, and conservationists to foster an ongoing dialogue with industry experts as well as the broader public at large,” says Lamm.

To this end, Colossal has assembled a scientific advisory board composed of some of the most innovative minds in the scientific community. Contrary to popular belief, great minds don't always think alike, and that's good because differences of opinion foster innovation. This is why Colossal's scientific advisory board brings together scientists from diverse backgrounds.

The disparate board includes legal eagle Alta Charo, J.D., the Knowles Professor Emerita of law and bioethics at the University of Wisconsin; Thomas Hildebrandt, Ph.D., chair and professor of wildlife reproduction medicine at the Freie University of Berlin; physician-scientist Helen Hobbs, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas; and many more. 

 

Partnering With Leading Educational Institutions

These esteemed scientists have helped Colossal Biosciences secure partnerships with leading universities, including Harvard University, Cornell University, the University of Alaska, the University of California, Santa Cruz, the University of Melbourne, and Rockefeller University. These associations have allowed Colossal to tap into a pool of amazing researchers and emerging scientists, greatly enhancing the company's abilities.   

“There are few biotech companies that inspire me and get my imagination racing more than Colossal. Under the leadership of Ben Lamm, the company has the potential to unleash extraordinary possibilities,” said Peter Diamandis, a member of the Colossal executive advisory board. Fortune named Diamandis as one of the World's 50 Greatest Leaders.

Given that conservation efforts are the underlying driving force behind Colossal's mission, Lamm has also assembled a team of conservationists. These are individuals who have dedicated their lives and careers to advancing the cause of conservation and bringing their leadership and insight to Colossal. Take, for instance, Virginia Riddle Pearson. Pearson has spent more than 50 years working to save elephants, and her research on elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus (EEHV) is going to prove crucial for Colossal in its goal to produce a vaccine to protect pachyderms from the potentially fatal ailment. 

All of this wouldn't be possible without funding. Colossal is backed by A-list venture capital firms and investors that have not only shown trust in Colossal's capabilities, but also share its vision for conservation and restoration. Colossal has earned the good graces and backing of a prominent biotech investor and Colossal Advisor, Robert Nelsen, who is credited with the creation and development of over 39 companies with valuations exceeding $1 billion. 

 

Colossal Biosciences Cataloguing Vertebrates

Recently, Colossal partnered with the Vertebrate Genomes Project. VGP is working to sequence high-quality genomes for living vertebrates — animals with spinal columns. This catalog of genomes will prove extremely useful for future research into conservation, diseases, and biology. 

Appreciative of the importance collaboration has in the advancement of science, Colossal has committed to sharing its research findings. Its website includes a host of resources that may be freely referenced and cited for individuals, researchers, and institutions. 

The company intends to use the technological developments in gene editing to create hybrids of once-alive animals like the woolly mammoth, Tasmanian tiger, and dodo, and reintroduce them to their former habitats to restore ecological balance. Their impact is greatly enhanced by the fact that Colossal intends to use the fruits of its research to find solutions to the lack of biodiversity, fight overfishing and hunting, and even create a vaccine for EEHV.  

Colossal believes that its advancements could fundamentally reshape humanity. These technologies can be broken down into three broad categories: software, hardware, and wetware solutions. Colossal has already built a spinoff company, Form Bio, which is creating a platform that focuses on bioinformatics and computational biology. In the near future, the company intends to create more software that facilitates scientific research.  

Hardware solutions are being designed to facilitate and update lab environments for researchers for smoother workflows and testing. As far as wetware, this is perhaps the most interesting application of Colossal's research. It will allow humans to seamlessly access the computational power of artificial intelligence, thereby advancing biological function. 

On the conservation front, the company wants to build a library that catalogs endangered species and houses their embryos or DNA, preventing these species from going extinct. 

It's no understatement that it's only through colossal collaborations that Colossal will achieve its colossal task. The company has committed to an inclusive approach in its workplace and its research. By drawing from the power of a diverse workforce, communal engagement, and a global perspective, Colossal seems to be set to solve humanity's most pressing problems. 

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