...is Rob Carlson, a friend who I met at the first of these meetings. Rob, like Drew Endy, used to work at Roger Brent's Molecular Sciences Institute, just down the road from here, and he's now at the University of Washington. He may well be the only person in this pretty eclectic audience whose interests roam from detecting single proteins in cells to building space elevators. More on Rob here.
Rob's latest post from the meeting points out its commercial vibe. I must say that I wish I'd noticed Craig Venter and Vinod Khosla talking over lunch -- or indeed heard what they were saying... Rob also catches up with a couple of this morning's chemistry talks, so for the time being at least I won't.
Posting on Rob reminds of something I wrote about the biosecurity implications of synthetic biology in the New York Times last year. It seems particularly apposite right now, because the past two talks have been about designing bacteria and viruses for therapeutic purposes, part of which might involve making them less susceptible to the immune system. Subscribers can find it here, and everyone else can apparently find it for free here
, but I should point out that the free version contains an error that crept into my copy through miscommunication with the Times, and which the Times itself has corrected: though Rob was a key player in the conception of very sensitive detection molecules called "tadpoles", there are a bunch of other people who should share credit, most specifically Ian Burbulis. The relevant paper is Burbulis, I.E., Yamaguchi, K., Carlson, R., and Brent, R. "Using protein-DNA chimera to count small numbers of molecules". Nature Methods Vol. 2, 31-37, 2005