Stephen Hughes is Director of New Platform Development at GenScript, responsible for next-generation synthetic DNA production systems for gene therapy. He has negotiated optimum quotes from suppliers for a core system for scaled production of dsDNA, ssDNA, and IVT template DNA without plasmid, bacteria, or yeast for CAR-T, TCR-T, AAV, and lentiviral gene therapy. Previously at Spark Therapeutics he provided the overall strategic and tactical leadership for the establishment and implementation of automation and robotics associated with optimizing operations and compliance for preclinical development, manufacturing, and testing. He was responsible for designing the automation strategy to enable new hardware technology development and implementation to scale for automation of preclinical development, manufacturing, and testing capabilities across all therapeutic areas for Spark.
He held increasingly responsible positions at USDA where he supervised a laboratory to support high-throughput gene optimization and functional proteomic operations. He designed and built an integrated robotic platform to perform high-throughput gene assembly, cloning, transformation, expression, and assay operations for screening mutagenized genes and synthetic chromosomes to use in improving functions of industrial microbial strains. He has also held positions in pharmaceutical and biotechnology operations at Cell Pathways, Worthington Biochemical Corp., Hudson Robotics, and Quality Biotech in synthetic genomics, protein expression, fermentation processes, robotic platform design, and quality control of biologics. While a post-doctoral fellow in the Neuroscience Department at Hoechst Marion Roussel, Inc., he engineered a novel two-hybrid technology to identify protein-protein interactions involving the plaque-forming Aβ peptide implicated in Alzheimer’s disease. He holds an undergraduate degree in Biology specializing in Genetics and a PhD degree in Molecular Genetics, Biochemistry, and Microbiology.
Steve has spent his career conducting research in all aspects of molecular biology and automation and is recognized as an expert in the areas of heterologous protein expression, gene optimization, design of integrated robotic platforms for automated molecular biology routines, and improvement of industrial microbes and cells. He has been invited to give more than 34 international and national presentations. He is first author on 18 peer-reviewed journal articles, has authored or co-authored 10 book chapters on automated molecular biology and biofuels, and is listed as inventor on 4 patents. He is on the editorial board of 4 journals, has organized 5 CRADAs, including 1 international, and participates in review panels for the Department of Energy, Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy, the National Science Foundation, the Center for Biorenewable Chemicals, and the USDA. 13. Elected Chairman of Illinois Heartland Section of the American Chemical Society, 2006. (Section received Chem Luminary Award for 2006, highest honor section can win) Winner of ChemCon 2022 75th Anniversary Distinguished Speaker Award.