Emerging technology and software entrepreneur Ben Lamm announces the launch of Colossal, a bioscience and genetics company co-founded by world-renowned geneticist and serial biotech entrepreneur George Church, Ph.D., that will rapidly advance the field of species de-extinction. This new wave of thoughtful and disruptive conservation is aimed at combating the effects of climate change through ecosystem restoration. Using CRISPR technology, Colossal will pioneer a practical, working model of de-extinction and be the first to apply advanced gene-editing techniques to restore the woolly mammoth to the Arctic tundra.
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Co Founders of Colossal, Ben Lamm (L), CEO and Dr. George Church (R), PhD (Photo: Business Wire)
The rewilding of critical, extinct species as proxies to their original habitats represents a new, disruptive conservation approach by restoring lost ecosystems that have the potential to help halt and even reverse the effects of climate change. These technological advancements will also be applied to recovering near-extinct species and helping to slow the extinction crises in collaboration with leading wildlife conservationists.
“Never before has humanity been able to harness the power of this technology to rebuild ecosystems, heal our Earth and preserve its future through the repopulation of extinct animals,” said Lamm, CEO and Co-Founder of Colossal. “In addition to bringing back ancient extinct species like the woolly mammoth, we will be able to leverage our technologies to help preserve critically endangered species that are on the verge of extinction and restore animals where humankind had a hand in their demise.”
A 2019 United Nations report warned that more than 1 million animal, plant and fungi species are now threatened with extinction, many within decades. As more species go extinct, the ecosystems that depend on them begin to collapse, with impacts on human health and livelihoods. The goal of Colossal’s rewilding efforts is to return extinct species to their original habitats so they can revitalize lost ecosystems for a healthier planet. Restoring the woolly mammoth has the potential to revitalize the Arctic grasslands, which has major climate change-combatting properties including carbon sequestering, methane suppression and light reflection.
“Colossal leverages the exponential progress made in technologies for reading and writing DNA and applies it to iconic ecological conservation and carbon sequestration issues,” said Colossal Co-Founder Church, a world-recognized leader in genomics.
Church, who is the Robert Winthrop Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School (HMS) and a Core Faculty member at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University, has pioneered several breakthroughs that have progressed the field of genomics, including CRISPR.
Through a sponsored research agreement, Colossal will support research in Church’s HMS lab aiming to create an elephant-mammoth hybrid that is genetically engineered with traits to help it survive in the Arctic. The advances required to achieve such a goal will potentially create technology leaps in multiplexed genetic engineering, synthetic biology, and other emerging areas.
“Technologies discovered in pursuit of this grand vision – a living, walking proxy of a woolly mammoth – could create very significant opportunities in conservation and beyond, not least of which include inspiring public interest in STEM, prompting timely discussions in bioethics, and raising awareness of the vital importance of biodiversity,” added Church.
Colossal Funding, Leadership and Advisory
Funding: Colossal launches with a $15M oversubscribed seed round from Thomas Tull, the company’s lead investor, as well as participation from Breyer Capital, Draper Associates, Animal Capital, At One Ventures, Jazz Ventures, Jeff Wilke, Bold Capital, Global Space Ventures, Climate Capital, Winklevoss Capital, Liquid2 Ventures, Capital Factory, Tony Robbins and First Light Capital.
Leadership: In addition to George Church, Colossal is helmed by: Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer Ben Lamm, former CEO and founder of Hypergiant, former CEO and founder of multiple successful startups acquired by LivePerson [NASDAQ: LPSN], Zynga [NASDAQ: ZNGA], and Accenture [NYSE: ACN]; Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer, Andrew Busey, an Internet pioneer who has contributed to the commercialization of web browsers (Mosaic), chat and messaging (ichat), where he created the first web-based chat systems and invented chat-based customer service, and created early virtual goods and digital card games, generating over 30 patents; Co-Founder and COO Kent Wakeford, former co-founder and President of Integral Ad Science [NASDAQ: IAS], COO of Kabam, co-founder and Vice Chairman Gen.G Esports, and board member of Skillz [NYSE: SKLZ]; Co-Founder and Chief Legal Officer Brian Beard, former managing partner of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich Rosati; Co-Founder and Chief Business Officer Peter Phillips, former EVP and General Manager of Interactive & Distribution at Marvel Entertainment and former COO of Giphy; and Head of Biological Sciences Eriona Hysolli, Ph.D., former postdoctoral fellow in the Church Lab from 2015 to 2021, where she focused on developing and optimizing novel genetic tools for multiplex mammalian genome engineering including mammoth de-extinction and building a virus-resistance human cell line.
Advisory: Colossal is advised by leaders in bioethics, genomics, chemical engineering, biotechnology, molecular genetics, defense, and software along with groundbreaking entrepreneurs, inventors and investors to bring to life a new chapter in genetic engineering.
The company’s scientific advisory board includes Claire Aldridge, Ph.D., Carolyn Bertozzi, Ph.D., Alta Charo, J.D., Joseph M. DeSimone, Ph.D., Elazar Edelman, M.D. & Ph.D., Helen Hobbs, M.D., Michael Hofreiter, Ph.D., Fritz Vollrath, Ph.D., Matthew Liao, Ph.D., Vagheesh Narasimhan, Ph.D. and Luhan Yang, Ph.D.
The company’s executive advisory board includes Linda Avey, Peter Diamandis, Richard Garriott, Lauren Knausenberger, Tom Gruber, Ryan Phelan, Julian Holguin, David Copps, Nyalleng Moorosi, Michael Ireland and Peter Knights.
Under an exclusive license agreement coordinated by Harvard Office of Technology Development, Colossal will commercialize the technologies developed during the course of the research collaboration with the Church Lab, in a range of defined fields, excluding use of these Harvard technologies in humans.
Colossal is a breakthrough bioscience and genetic engineering company that builds radical new technologies to advance the field of genomics. Colossal creates disruptive technologies for extinct species restoration, critically endangered species protection and the repopulation of critical ecosystems that support the continuation of life on Earth. The company is the first to apply CRISPR technology for the purposes of species de-extinction, beginning with the woolly mammoth. Colossal is accepting humanity’s duty to restore Earth to a healthier state, while also solving for the future economies and biological necessities of the human condition through cutting-edge science and technologies. To follow along, please visit: www.colossal.com
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