molpigs, The Molecular Programming Interest Group, is an international group of researchers interested in topics such as molecular programming, DNA computing, and other aspects of biomolecular nanotechnology. We host regular seminars, poster sessions, journal clubs, send out newsletters, and host a forum for discussion and fostering collaboration.
Hello and welcome back to the molpigs newsletter! Feel free to hang out at the molpigs Forum! We are also on twitter!
All the past podcasts and tutorial can be found here. You can also now find our podcasts on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google, Stitcher, TuneIn, and more (as well as manually in your favorite podcast client with our RSS feed)! Enjoy!
- Podcast with Kent Kemmish
- New events coming–Chat with Lee Organick!
- Job Advertisements!
- Interested in helping out, sharing something interesting, or have an idea for something we could do?
1. Podcast with Kent Kemmish
Join us for our first podcast with a member of the molecular programming community who works in industry, and in the startup sector! We spoke with Kent Kemmish, the founder and chief exorcist (yes, exorcist) officer of Demonpore, and the creator of the new, and world’s first “molecular” games console, the Demonpore 64.
At its heart, Kent’s Demonpore 64 is a device which utilises solid state nanopores in order to sense its environment at the molecular level. Kent and his team have reduced the cost to manufacture this traditionally lab based and expensive equipment by orders of magnitude.
Kent’s hope is that by making this technology cheap, accessible and gamified, gamers can engage in science and data collection on behalf of scientists. This ought to enable scientists to perform very very large experiments, which would otherwise be impossible. We discuss what a molecular games console actually is, what sort of functionality the Demonpore 64 has and how it can bring together academics, game developers, gamers, and citizen scientists in order to solve the world’s biggest challenges.
Kent talks through future games which will be available for the Demonpore 64, including Poop of the Gods, 2021: A SARS Odyssey, Genomic Ranger, and Molecules of Mars. These games allow people to explore the molecular mysteries of poop, viral detection, chromosome structure, and martian soil!
We then move on to talk about Kent’s life, from student, to academic, to entrepreneur. Kent talks fondly of his early days working on Drosophila genetics, and later at Halcyon Molecular a startup which was focussed around sequencing DNA with electron microscopy. He talks about how these experiences shaped his worldview around having a much greater impact by working on and caring about scientific tools rather than the science itself, and bringing these tools to the scientists with research questions.
To learn more about the Demonpore 64, check out Kent’s WeFunder campaign.
Kent Kemmish is the CEO and founder of demonpore, inc., a biotech startup building a nanopore-based molecular sensor (the demonpore 64) marketed and designed as a gaming console. His early scientific training includes drosophila research (Arizona Cancer Center) and finding enzymes to break down age-related aggregates as part of Aubrey de Grey’s LysoSENS project (work done at the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University). He went on to be part of the founding team of Halcyon Molecular, a VC-backed startup developing electron microscopy-based DNA sequencing techniques, and later helped recruit the early team of Synthego, Inc, a biotech unicorn and now a premiere supplier of CRISPR reagents. Before becoming a scientist, Kent’s unusual background included live theatre production as part of the team at Planet Earth Multicultural Theatre in Phoenix, AZ, where as technical director he was involved as a director, actor, writing, and stage manager in more than 50 live stage productions of multicultural, postmodern, boundary-pushing, critically-acclaimed theatrical performances. As a child, Kent’s whole life revolved around programming video games for the commodore 64, a passion he is now revisiting 35 years later working with the game design team of demonpore.
2. New events coming–Chat with Lee Organick!
We will talk with Lee Organick in a few days!
Lee Organick is a fourth year computer science and engineering Ph.D. student at the University of Washington in the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science and Engineering. Her focus is on the intersection of biology and computer science, using biology to do tasks traditionally done by computers.
She works in the Molecular Information Systems Lab in close collaboration with Microsoft Research to make archival DNA data storage a reality. She also collaborates with the Security and Privacy Research Lab to make DNA sequencing secure.
If you have any questions, please send them here!
3. Job Advertisements!
- Associate Professor position [deadline: 10th June, location: Stockholm]
- In gene technology, with a focus on molecular programming
- At the Gene Technology department of KTH, Sweden, headed by Peter Savolainen
- More details here
- Postdoc position [deadline: 15th June, location: London]
- To work on the theoretical design and analysis of lean biomolecular controllers in synthetic biology
- In Guy-Bart Stan’s group at Imperial College London
- Part of a multidisciplinary long-term project with the UK Royal Academy of Engineering focused on the efficient engineering of reliable and high-performance biosystems
- More details here and here
- Bioinformatician [location: Houston]
- David Zhang is looking to hire bioinformaticians to work on next-generation sequencing
- This would be within the startup Nuprobe, and would be based in Houston
- Pay: relatively high
- Candidates should be Ph.D.-level or above
- Contact Dave to find out more
4. Interested in helping out, sharing something interesting, or have an idea for something we could do?
If so, please get in touch with us! Shoot us an email at
contributions AT <this domain>, there are loads of ways you can get involved, and many we haven’t even thought of, but here’s a few ideas of what you could do:
- Be a guest on our podcast series: you can talk about anything vaguely related to the field, whether it’s comments on life as a student/researcher, some thoughts you’ve had about the field, some interesting work you want to share, or if you want to speak out about something like mental health, this is the perfect place to do it!
- Present a poster-podcast! This is something we’re very excited to try out, and we hope you feel the same: the idea is to try to explain something (it doesn’t have to be your own work) within a 20-30 minute podcast, with the challenge that all reference material needs to fit into a poster format.
- Want to advertise something on our newsletter? Perhaps you’ve just passed your thesis defense, or are looking for a team for a hackathon, or have a job posting to share, or have just written a blog post you think might be of interest; whatever the case we’d love to help you share the good news!
- We’re also open to more conventional seminar-esque things like talks or journal clubs.
We’re looking forward to getting to hear from you, and getting to know you better!