2018 Speakers

A Biohacker Conference.

Bryan Johnson is the founder and CEO of Kernel, OS Fund and Braintree.
In 2016, Bryan invested $100M in Kernel to build advanced neural interfaces to treat disease and dysfunction, illuminate the mechanisms of intelligence, and extend cognition. Kernel is on a mission to dramatically increase our quality of life as healthy lifespans extend. He believes that the future of humanity will be defined by the combination of human and artificial intelligence (HI +AI). In 2014, Bryan invested $100M to start OS Fund which invests in entrepreneurs commercializing breakthrough discoveries in genomics, synthetic biology, artificial intelligence, precision automation, and new materials development. Bryan founded Braintree in 2007, later acquiring Venmo, which he sold to Ebay in 2013 for $800M. He is an outdoor-adventure enthusiast, pilot, and author of a children’s book, Code 7.

Michael Specter is a staff writer at The New Yorker.
Since joining the magazine in 1998, he has written about agricultural biotechnology, the global AIDS epidemic, avian influenza, malaria, the world’s diminishing freshwater resources, synthetic biology, geoengineering, new ways to edit DNA with CRISPR, and the implications of gene drive technology. His profile subjects include: Ingrid Newkirk, the founder of PETA, Dr. Oz, Peter Singer, Vandana Shiva, Miuccia Prada, and Richard Branson. Specter came to The New Yorker from the New York Times, where he had been a roving foreign correspondent based in Rome. From 1995 to 1998, Specter served as co-chief of The Times Moscow bureau. Before working at the Times he was the New York Bureau Chief of The Washington Post.
Specter has received the Overseas Press Club’s Citation for Excellence,
the Global Health Council’s annual Excellence in Media Award, AAAS Science Journalism Award, and the James Beard Award. His 2009 book, “Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet, and Threatens Our Lives,” received the Robert P. Balles Annual Prize in Critical Thinking, presented by The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. He is currently on leave from The New Yorker to write a book about gene editing.

Drew Endy is a member of the bioengineering faculty at Stanford University and BioBricks Foundation president (biobricks.org).
His research teams pioneered amplifying genetic logic, rewritable DNA data storage, reliably-reuseable standard biological parts, and genome refactoring. Drew helped launch the new undergraduate majors in bioengineering at both MIT and Stanford; he also co-founded the iGEM competition, a global genetic engineering “olympics” now engaging over 6,000 students annually (igem.org). In 2013 the White House recognized Drew for his work on open-source biotechnology and, more recently, he received an honorary doctorate from the Technische Universiteit Delft. Drew has served on the US National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity and the Committee on Science, Technology, & Law; he currently serves on the World Health Organization’s Smallpox Advisory Committee. Drew lives in Menlo Park, California with Christina Smolke (Stanford colleague & Antheia, Inc., CEO), their two boys, and two cats. Drew was a co-founder of Gen9, Inc., a DNA construction company; he returned to serve as a director while Gen9 was successfully acquired. Drew worked briefly with the Rapid Evaluation team at Google [X] and also served on the building project team for the Shriram Center at Stanford. He is a founding co-director of the NIST/Stanford Joint Initiative for Metrology in Biology (jimb.stanford.edu). Esquire magazine recognized Drew as one of the 75 most influential people of the 21st century.

Andrew Hessel is the founder of Humane Genomics Inc., an early stage biotechnology company specializing in designer synthetic viruses.
The first application being developed is personalized cancer therapies for dogs. Hessel is also the co-founder of the Genome Project-write (GP-write), the international scientific effort advancing the design, construction, and testing of large genomes, including the human genome. Previously, Andrew was the Distinguished Researcher at Autodesk Life Sciences. He has been Singularity University faculty since 2009. His goal is to help people better understand and use living systems to meet the needs of society. He is based in San Francisco, California.

Mohammad Islam is a Principal VC at DFJ Venture.

Mohammad Islam joined DFJ in 2014 to focus on frontier technologies such as machine intelligence, biotechnology, and next-generation infrastructure across enterprise and consumer. He has sourced DFJ’s investments in Zymergen, Atomwise, and a stealth analytics database company. Mohammad is also a co-author in a chapter addressing the disruption of employment by the rise of automation and artificial intelligence in “Disrupting Unemployment: Reflection on a Sustainable, Middle Class Economic Recovery.”

Prior to joining DFJ, Mohammad was on the technology team at In-Q-Tel, where he conducted technical diligence on investments made on behalf of the US government (USG). He was responsible for bridging the gap between the technology needs of the USG and emerging commercial innovation. Mohammad also held engineering roles at Lockheed Martin, the National Science Foundation, and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

Mohammad graduated with a BS in electrical engineering from Stanford University, with interdisciplinary honors in international security studies. While at Stanford, he served as a research assistant in both the Very Low Frequency Group, which investigates the Earth’s upper atmosphere, and the Center for International Security and Cooperation. He also worked as a developer at Soup, a startup working on building applications to make it easier for nonprofits to raise donations.

Mohammad was featured on 2017 Forbes 30 under 30 Venture Capital list as “investing in the next great tech companies.”

Tim Cannon is the founder and CEO of Grindhouse Wetware and Livestock Labs.
Tim Cannon is an American software developer, entrepreneur, and biohacker based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.He founded and lead the biohacker group Grindhouse Wetware and currently serves as the CEO of Livestock Labs, a biotechnology startup company that creates implantable technology for cattle and other animals. Cannon himself has had a variety of body modification implants, and has been referred to in the media as a cyborg. Tim has spoken on subjects including technological ethics, sensory substitution, and citizen science.

Daniel Grushkin is the founder and director of Biodesign Challenge and Genspace.
Daniel Grushkin is the founder and director of the Biodesign Challenge. He is co-founder and Executive Director of Genspace, a nonprofit community laboratory dedicated to promoting citizen science and access to biotechnology. Fast Company ranked Genspace fourth among the top 10 most innovative education companies in the world. Daniel was a Fellow at Data & Society from 2016-2017. From 2013-2014, he was a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars where he researched synthetic biology. He was an Emerging Leader in Biosecurity at the UPMC Center of Health Security in 2014. As a journalist, he has reported on the intersection of biotechnology, culture, and business for publications including Bloomberg Businessweek, Fast Company, Scientific American and Popular Science.

Melissa Runfeldt is a Data Scientist for Salesforce Einstein.
Melissa Runfeldt is a Data Scientist for Salesforce Einstein, where she productionizes AI technologies for predictive applications. Her background is in applied mathematics, data analysis, and experimental and theoretical neuroscience. She received her PhD in Computational Neuroscience from The University of Chicago and was a postdoctoral fellow at UCSF, where she researched neural information coding in the neocortex. She serves as a technical advisor for Insight AI.

Keoni Gandall is a Biohacker who leads the Free Genes Project.
Keoni Gandall’s mission is to provide free synthetic genes to the public, while getting his drivers license at the age of 18.
Keoni has been working at UC Irvine for 4 years on directed evolution and mitochondria engineering in hopes that he can build a cell from scratch. His current project is with the Biobricks Foundation to lead the Free Genes Project. He wants to create synthetic genes for everyone to decentralize regulations for biohackers and beyond. He loves zeppelins, has pet ant colonies, and used to collect rare carnivorous plants.

Tristan Roberts is a Biohacker that pioneered gene therapy for treating HIV.
Tristan Roberts tested a gene therapy for treating HIV last year, as part of the now defunct Ascendance Biomedical. An advocate of responsible decentralization, he has been developing information technology to allow biomedical research to flourish in an age where access to labs and genetic modifications are increasingly available.

Amal Graafstra talks about biohacking, transhumanism, implantable technologies, and why implants are the next big thing beyond wearables.
Adventure technologist and biohacker Amal Graafstra has always been interested in technology. In 2005 he became the world’s first double RFID implantee by implanting two small RFID transponders, one into each hand, which he still uses today to open doors, start vehicles, log into computers, and operate his implant activated smartgun. Since upgrading himself, he’s written a book called RFID Toys, been a TEDx speaker, appeared on a multitude of television and media programs, and been the subject of various documentaries. He’s also started a biohacking company in 2013 called Dangerous Things, which developed the world’s first and only NFC compliant implantable transponder. He is currently developing next generation implantable technologies and exploring the future of human augmentation as CEO of his new venture VivoKey Technologies.

Patti Zetter

Patti Zettler is an associate professor of law and a faculty member of the Center for Law, Health & Society at Georgia State University College of Law in Atlanta.
Her research focuses on the regulation of medicine and biotechnology, with an emphasis on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Before joining Georgia State in 2015, she served as a fellow at the Center for Law and the Biosciences at Stanford Law School, and, before that, as an attorney in the FDA’s Office of the Chief Counsel. In addition to her legal background, Zettler has bioethics experience through work at the Program in Medical Ethics at the University of California San Francisco and at the Department of Bioethics at the National Institutes of Health. She received her undergraduate and law degrees from Stanford, both with distinction.

Leeor Kaufman & Joe Egender are documentary filmmakers in production on a series following the biotech revolution.
The series dives into the progress being made in the fields of medicine, agriculture, aging, fertility and DIY biotechnologies. They will discuss their experiences from spending time with scientists, patients, and biohackers.

Kristen V. Brown covers the future of health at Bloomberg.
In the name of journalism, she has probably taken more DNA tests than anyone else on the planet.

Stephanie M. Lee is a science reporter at BuzzFeed News in San Francisco.