Calyxt names IBM’s Global Chief artificial intelligence officer, Dr. Seth Dobrin, to scientific advisory board

OCT 13, 2021

Calyxt, a plant-based synthetic biotechnology company, today announced the appointment of Seth Dobrin, Ph.D., to the Company’s Scientific Advisory Board (SAB). Dobrin is the Global Chief Artificial Intelligence (AI) Officer at IBM and brings extensive leadership experience and a track record of transforming companies through data and AI.

“We warmly welcome Seth to our Scientific Advisory Board. Seth is a visionary whose deep experience bringing AI-based business solutions to major global corporations will be invaluable as we continue to develop and augment the AI and machine learning (AIML) capabilities of our PlantSpring platform and BioFactory production system to advance plant-based synthetic biology solutions for important target customers and end markets,” said Michael A. Carr, President & CEO of Calyxt.

“We estimate that, aided by machine learning and artificial intelligence, Calyxt will be able to take a customer’s molecule need through our design, engineering, verification, and pilot-level production process within a 36-month period, with commercial scale production to commence thereafter,” Carr added. “Seth’s unique expertise will provide key guidance to us as we develop and further refine our strategy to build our AIML data initiatives and advance our team’s skill sets and our capabilities to improve the efficiency and scalability of our offerings. Ultimately, our focus is to help our customers produce more sustainable products and meet corporate sustainability targets.”

In his role at IBM, Dobrin leads the corporate AI strategy. He is responsible for connecting AI development with a systemic creation of business value via a design-driven strategy that enables a transformation of IBM’s core operations. Dobrin leads the effort to fundamentally change every area of IBM, from business operations to product development, by adopting a human-centered approach to AI through a new methodology that he created that ensures continuous and responsible delivery of AI-based business outcomes across the company. Before being appointed as IBM’s Global Chief AI Officer, Dobrin led the digital transformation of IBM’s Cloud and Cognitive Software (C&CS) business as Chief Data Officer. Prior to IBM, Dobrin held roles of increasing responsibility at the Monsanto Company; at the Marshfield Clinic, as the Director for the Center of Medical Genetics; and as a Scientist at the Translational Genomics Research Institute. Dr. Dobrin received a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Biology, and a B.S. in Microbiology from Arizona State University. He is the Chair of the IBM Data Science Procession Board and the co-founder of the women’s diversity network, GROW. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Science Center of Iowa and is an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Genetics at Iowa State University.

“I am thrilled to join the Calyxt Scientific Advisory Board at this important time for the Company as it launches its new strategic direction to bring plant-based synthetic biology solutions to global businesses in major industries,” said Dobrin. “More precisely, I am impressed by the capabilities that Calyxt has created to deliver unique and innovative plant-based molecules not available through other production methods. By using a data driven approach and by implementing AI and machine learning, Calyxt is well positioned to accelerate its entire process from idea to commercial production. I look forward to advising the Company through its evolution in this exciting new opportunity.”

On October 5, 2021, Calyxt announced the launch of a strategic initiative to focus the Company on engineering synthetic biology solutions for a diversified base of customers across an expanded group of end markets, including the nutraceutical, cosmeceutical, pharmaceutical, advanced materials, and chemicals industries. Central to the strategy is the integration of the Company’s proprietary technology platform, PlantSpring, with its newly commissioned pilot bioreactor, the BioFactory, which together will enable Calyxt to rapidly prototype and produce complex plant-derived compounds without the need for outdoor cropping systems. Notably, the PlantSpring technology platform leverages an expanding set of AIML capabilities as well as Calyxt’s experience, proprietary systems and tools and technologies from more than a decade of engineering plant metabolism.

“We are pleased that Seth has joined our Scientific Advisory Board, where he will bring highly-specialized expertise relevant to the current and future potential of Calyxt. This is a particularly opportune time for Seth to be joining Calyxt as we drive our new strategic initiative, which leverages AIML in important new ways for our customers. We look forward to working with him,” said Dan Voytas, Ph.D., Professor in the Department of Genetics, Cell Biology and Development at the University of Minnesota and Chair of the Calyxt SAB.

Calyxt formalized its SAB in March 2021 to provide guidance for Calyxt to leverage and grow the business in new directions and help realize the significant potential value of the Company. The SAB also includes the following members:

  • Anne Osbourn, Ph.D., Group Leader at the John Innes Center
  • Elizabeth Sattely, Ph.D., HHMI Investigator and Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering, Stanford University
  • Paul Bernasconi, Ph.D., Former Global Function Head for Molecular Biology at BASF Biosciences
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