“Adventures Along the Academia-Industry Fault Line”
When: September 13, 2001
Chaitan Khosla, Ph. D.
(Professor of Chemical Engineerig, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Stanford University;
Co-Founder Kosan Biosciences)
Professor Khosla received the PhD in Chemical Engineering from Caltech in 1990. He then completed a postdoctoral tour in the Department of Genetics at the John Innes Center in the UK. He has won numerous awards including a Dreyfus New Investigator Award, and NSF Young Investigator Award, and the ACS Award in Pure Chemistry. He is an author on over 100 research papers, and the founder of Kosan Biosciences Incorporated.
Khosla’s research interests lie at the interface of enzyme chemistry and medicine. He has elaborated the details of the catalytic mechanisms and molecular genetics of a group of mega-enzymes called the polyketide synthases. These enzymes are responsible for the biosynthesis of many pharmaceutically relevant natural products, such as the frequently-prescribed erythromycin. The goal is to understand how bacteria and fungi make these substances, and then re-arrange the genes to create new “un-natural, natural” products with potentially different and enhanced medicinal activities. Khosla’s work runs from the molecular level of what’s happening at the active site to how these genes can be coaxed into mass producing their new molecules.