January 18, 2015. On January 24, the Florida Museum of Natural History will be hosting
Sue, the famous Tyrannosaurus rex visiting Gainesville from the Field
Museum in Chicago. FfAME will be there, showcasing its "Jurassic Park"
research. This includes work resurrecting proteins from our primate
ancestors that first allowed us to imbibe alcohol, the ancient yeast
that first created alcohol on Earth, and from ancient ruminants
responding to climate change. 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM.
January 12, 2015. Expertise of the staff at the FfAME concerning the origin of life was called upon last month to comment on new results, emerging from the Czech Republic, on how meteorite impact might have led to the formation of small amounts of the building blocks essential for RNA, believed to be the first genetic molecule. See the article on the Science website.
December 18, 2014. The American Association for the Advancement of Science has just
announced the election of Steven A. Benner as one of its 2014 Fellows.
Steven Benner is President and Distinguished Fellow at the Foundation
for Applied Molecular Evolution (FfAME), a nonprofit research
organization in Gainesville. In support of its awarding this prestigious
honor by America's oldest scientific society, the AAAS cited Dr.
Benner's pioneering work in many fields, including paleogenetics,
synthetic biology, evolutionary bioinformatics, human medicine, and
space exploration. Dr. Benner joins six other Fellows elected this year
from the Gainesville scientific community, including Cammy Abernathy,
Robert Cousins, Andrew Hanson, Ann Progulske-Fox, and Wolfgang M.
Sigmund, all at the University of Florida, and Bruce McFadden, also at
the Florida Museum of Natural History.
December 1, 2014. Matthew Carrigan, Steven Benner, and their colleagues at the Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution recently resurrected proteins that oxidize alcohol in the digestive tracts of now-extinct primates dating back some 80 million years. The behaviors of these ancient proteins suggest that our primate ancestors acquired the ability to metabolize digested alcohol at the same time as they descended from the trees to walk on the ground, where they could pick up fruit that had fallen, suffered damage to its husk, and therefore became infected with fermenting yeast. The Science magazine news piece can be found here.
September 22, 2014. Japanese television described last week work being done at the Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution on the role of minerals and their elements on the origin of life on earth, the potential for life elsewhere in the solar system.
May 4, 2014. At 7:00 PM on May 22, Steven Benner will be presenting a public lecture
in Seattle (Kane Hall), on the subject: Finding Alien Life. On Earth, on Mars, and throughout the Cosmos.
The event is free and open to the public. Pre-registration is encouraged
to guarantee seating.
Abstract: How do we define "life"? This fundamental question has
remained largely philosophical, because it has been asked for so long,
by so many, and with so few concrete conclusions. In this talk, Dr.
Benner will take a different tack. He will show how laboratory studies
to create a second example of life help us develop a firmer scientific
understanding of what life is. The challenge of "synthetic biology" is
on! Dr. Benner will discuss how we are hitchhiking on rockets, rovers,
and telescopes to find life elsewhere in the Solar System, and will
describe how his research team is working to develop that second example
of life in laboratories here on Earth, one step at a time.
March 21, 2014. Steven Benner, Distinguished Fellow at the FfAME, will give
the "Beyond Lecture" at Arizona State University, Neeb Hall, at 7:30 PM.
Previous lecturers have included the biologist Richard Dawkins,
physicist Freeman Dyson, and Nobel Laureate Frank Wilczek. Afterwards,
Dr. Benner will sign copies of his book "Life, the Universe, and the
For more information, visit the ASU Beyond website or see Synthetic biologist to discuss creating life in the lab at ASU lecture.