‘Life code’ could lead to changes in businesses

Kelly Mcgowan

“If you thought the digital revolution was fast, the life code revolution is faster,” said Juan Enriquez.  Enriquez is a leading authority on the impact of life science research in business, technology and society.

On Feb. 6, he came to the Great Hall to speak about the uses of the genome code in a range of disciplines. Enriquez talked about the use of binary code in technological advances, comparing it to the “life code” found in DNA and how widespread the impact of biogenetics will be. 

Enriquez was introduced by President Steven Leath and Craig Venter, who described Enriquez as a “unique individual that lives in the future.”

This technology has the potential to reach into automobile, fuel, cosmetic, medical and food production businesses with use of “biological factories” in the form of programmable cells that can be manipulated in countless ways, Enriquez said.

“How we make things and where we make things is going to change on an absolutely fundamental basis,” Enriquez said.  He said these cells can be programmed to produce anything from fuel to human organs.

Leath is optimistic about this type of technology being researched by ISU faculty, and said that this type of lecture gives the university an opportunity to talk about where they want to focus faculty positions and research efforts.

“It also shows us where some of the very edge of science has implications in agriculture and research,” Leath said. “And we could be that interface between what is happening in genomics and other fields, and how to apply that to agriculture.”

Enriquez said he thinks the U.S. will stay ahead in these new technologies and sees many smart students in these fields.

Animal science and biotechnology professor James Reecy said he sees new genomic research driving Iowa farm production and influencing the rest of the world.

“With the advent of new technology, it’s interesting to see how far technology has gone,” said David Wei, senior in industrial technology