Team member: Nate Maynard, Director of Biofoundry Services and Reagent Manufacturing
What do you do at Codex DNA?
I work closely with the manufacturing team to build the reagents that create DNA and RNA for the BioXp™ system. We also run BioXp’s in-house for customers who don’t own a BioXp but want to use our products.
What brought you to Codex DNA?
I joined Dan Gibson’s team back in 2013 when the company was still SGI-DNA. I initially worked on how to boot up genomes in a test tube. Shortly after I joined the company, we launched a new business unit focused on providing synthetic DNA to outside customers. When I was a post-doc at Stanford, I was always interested in building synthetic DNA, but at the time, the technology was in its infancy. I was excited about building and improving the technology to build complex DNA fragments — which was previously impossible.
What’s the company vibe?
I would say that Codex DNA is a diverse, fast-moving company. We have employees with different interests and expertise. Everything from employees passionate about synthetic biology, to people interested in building the latest instrumentation and hardware. Given the size of our company, we have a large pool of talent that offers unique expertise. The vibe is collaborative, cross-functional, and teamwork-focused.
How do you describe synthetic biology to non-scientists?
I like to think of synthetic biology as similar to a computer circuit. In computer engineering, circuits perform different functions. We do the same in biology, controlling the outcomes of what a cell does or produces by designing circuits and components made of biological materials!
What’s something fun about working at Codex DNA?
People outside of the company are always very interested in learning about what I do at work. They love learning what companies, labs, and universities can do with the DNA our team makes. They are always blown away and have no idea that this work is possible. A common refrain is, “Wait, you can make DNA from scratch?” I love talking to people about how we make DNA and how it is used for vaccines and drugs that address people’s health problems.
The most exciting thing for me is seeing all the applications our customers find for our DNA and how DNA production is faster and more cost-effective than ever.
What was the first thing you ever wanted to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be an architect. I wanted to build buildings – and now I build DNA!
How do you see synthetic biology changing the world?
Synthetic biology enables scientists to create vaccines with new RNA applications very quickly. The ability to bring therapies to market due to synthetic biology is impressive. I’m proud to contribute to this incredibly positive impact on humanity.