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Cracking the code of life


Thermo Fisher Scientific products are used by scientists worldwide in their day-to-day research. The portfolio covers premium brands such as Thermo Scientific™, Applied Biosystems™, Invitrogen™, Fisher Scientific™ and Unity Lab Services™.

“We are the leader in serving science,” says Dr. Helge Bastian, Vice President and General Manager of the Synthetic Biology Business Unit in Carlsbad, California. “Because we have such a huge portfolio of technology and services, we are working at the forefront of fields that will help our customers make the world healthier, cleaner and safer.”

Thermo Fisher’s Regensburg site was founded in 2000 and is a spin-off from Regensburg University. One of the founders is Dr. Marcus Graf, Director Operations Synthetic Biology and Site Leader: “We were founded in the same year that the human genome was sequenced. Our aim was to synthesize genes for researchers. In 2006 we went public and became part of Thermo Fisher in 2014. In the past ten years, we have enjoyed significant growth and have benefitted greatly from Thermo Fisher’s global presence to become the market leader worldwide in writing DNA.”

Steve Smith, Global Business Manager Genome Editing & DNA Synthesis for Thermo Fisher, hails the Regensburg site’s achievement: “It is a wonderful success story that has seen a small, highly specialized university-based project become a significant business within a 17-billion-dollar corporation, with an unmatched ability to write very specific DNA molecules. The Regensburg site is now our center of excellence for writing DNA. It is this ability to write DNA on a state-of-the-art, fully automated gene synthesis platform that sets us apart from our competitors.”

“We have synthesized more customized double-stranded DNA molecules than any other company worldwide,” states Dr. Graf. “We have the broadest portfolio and incorporate synthetic DNA into systems that can be directly used by our research customers in their research to help speed up new drug discovery and make researchers more efficient in their work.”

The company’s work is directly relevant to major global health threats. Its products were used to combat bird flu in 2009 and Ebola last year when synthesized DNA was needed in developing vaccines and antibodies.

“A more recent challenge with which we are helping the medical research community is posed by the Zika virus, which is having a devastating impact on pregnant women and babies in South America and presents a potentially global threat,” adds Dr. Bastian. “We are also involved in a project in Africa looking into modifying the genome of agricultural crops to help them grow better in arid conditions.”

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