Helge Zieler is a biotechnology professional and entrepreneur with over 17 years of experience in technology & product development and R&D project leadership. He has a passion for early-stage genetic technologies, and has helped launch the operations of multiple biotechnology startup companies including Akkadix, Chromatin, Synthetic Genomics, Agradis and Primordial Genetics. His background combines strong technical skills in molecular biology, genomics, plant & algal biotechnology and synthetic biology with technology creativity, entrepreneurism and team building.
Helge did his doctorate work in yeast molecular genetics with Nobel Laureate Paul Berg in Stanford University’s Department of Biochemistry and received his PhD in 1994.
Pursuing an interest in malaria research, he did malaria field work in West Africa and Brazil, followed by post-doctoral work in the Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases at the National Institutes of Health. Starting in 2000, Helge worked on a succession of projects in crop plant biotechnology and genomics. He led a group at Chromatin Inc. that successfully developed plant artificial chromosomes as gene delivery vehicles in multiple crop species. As Senior Director for Plant Genomics at Synthetic Genomics Inc., he spearheaded efforts to sequence the oil palm and jatropha genomes and set up a molecular breeding project for castor improvement. He returned to his microbial molecular genetics roots in 2011 and founded Primordial Genetics with the goal of building the premier company for genetic improvement of microbes. The company is pioneering genetic technologies for microbial and protein evolution, with the goal of learning to shape organisms efficiently and flexibly, like clay in our hands.