May 30, 2018

Engineering Living Cells to Produce Useful Medicines

By Nicholas McCarty

Nicholas McCarty

I gave a presentation on how genetic engineering can be used to produce medicines during the 2018 Berlin Seminar.

In 2015, Tu Youyou received the Nobel Prize in Medicine for proving that artemisinin, a chemical extracted from the Artemisia annua plant, could be used to cure malaria. I talked about how artemisinin is now being produced from yeast, the same organisms that are used to make bread, with very efficient yields.

Producing valuable medicines and other useful molecules from genetically-engineered organisms is a new and exciting field called Metabolic Engineering, which I am studying as part of my Masters program at Imperial College London.


Nicholas McCarty is a 2017-2018 US-UK Fulbright grantee to Imperial College London. In 2017, he graduated from the University of Iowa with a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry. Nicholas is spending his Fulbright year in London, where he conducts research on synthetic biology and metabolic engineering. Specifically, his research thesis aims to simplify and expedite DNA-editing technologies. Next year, Nicholas will continue his graduate studies in bioengineering at the California Institute of Technology.”

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