Division Director, Biological Systems & Engineering
In addition to directing the Biological Systems & Engineering Division, Blake Simmons serves as the Chief Scientific and Technology Officer and Vice President of the Deconstruction Division at the US Department of Energy’s Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) in Emeryville. After earning his BS in chemical engineering from the University of Washington, Simmons continued his studies at Tulane University and received his doctorate in the same field. For the past 15 years, Simmons has been part of the Senior Management team at Sandia National Laboratories, most recently serving as the Senior Manager of Advanced Biomanufacturing, Biomass Program Manager, as well as Adjunct Professor at the University of Queensland. His expertise includes biofuels, renewable chemicals, biomanufacturing, abiotic-biotic interfaces, biomass pretreatment, enzyme engineering, biofuel cells, templated nanomaterials, microfluidics, desalination, and biomineralization.
Susan E. Celniker
Susan Celniker is a Senior Staff Scientist, co-Director of the Berkeley Drosophila Genome Project (http://www.fruitfly.org) and Adjunct Professor and Chair of the Executive Committee in Comparative Biochemistry at UC Berkeley. She graduated from Pitzer College with a BA in Biology and Anthropology. After completing her dissertation at Caltech, she received her PhD in Biochemistry from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She accepted an NIH Postdoctoral Service Award (1983-1986) to work with E.B. Lewis (Nobel Laureate, 1995) conducting genetic and molecular analyses of developmental regulatory, HOX gene, Abdominal-B. She continued to work with Dr. Lewis until 1996, when she was hired as a Staff Scientist at Berkeley Lab. In 2001, she was a co-recipient of the AAAS Newcomb Cleveland Prize for “The Genome Sequence of Drosophila melanogaster.” Over her career at Berkeley Lab, Sue has pioneered Drosophila functional genomics, the use of the fruit fly as a genetic model organism for human and environmental health, and launched studies of the transcriptome for NHGRI’s modENCODE (Encyclopedia of DNA Elements) project. She is an advisor to FlyBase (2007-present), on the editorial boards of BMC Genomics (2009-present) and G3 (2011-present), and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In 2016 she won the George Beadle Award from the Genetics Society of America.
Deputy for Operations
Diane has over 30 years of research program development and management experience. She is a graduate of UC Berkeley where she also spent the majority of her career. At Berkeley, Diane conceptualized, developed and shepherded large-scale initiatives and programs through successful resource procurement, launches and implementation. Notable efforts launched include the National Center for the Workplace, QB3 Institute, the NSF Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center (Synberc), and the Center for Computational and Genomic Biology. She also led Berkeley coordination efforts for the establishment of the Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory, now the Stanford Underground Research Facility (SURF) and oversaw the development of the successful proposal to establish the Energy Biosciences Institute, a $500M award signifying the largest university/industry agreement in the nation’s history. Prior to leaving Berkeley, Diane conceived and launched the Berkeley Research Development Office. She was previously Director of Research Advancement at the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI), where she was responsible for assisting with program development and implementation, identifying funding opportunities and developing competitive proposals for efforts that expand and broaden JBEI research efforts.
Special Advisor to the Director
Mina Bissell is a Berkeley Lab Distinguished Scientist who has been recognized for her lifetime contributions to the fields of breast cancer research, the enhanced role of extracellular matrix (ECM) and the nucleus environment to gene expression in normal and malignant tissues. These works have ushered and have changed some central paradigms that have strengthened the importance of context in the development of cancer.
Department Head, Biodesign
Nathan J. Hillson is the Director of Synthetic Biology Informatics, Fuels Synthesis and Technologies Divisions, at the US Department of Energy’s Joint BioEnergy Institute. Hillson is also the Group Lead of Synthetic Biology Informatics at the Department of Energy’s Joint Genome Institute; Computational Staff Scientist and Department Head of Biodesign in the Biological Systems & Engineering Division at Berkeley Lab; Affiliate Investigator at the Engineering Biology Research Center (EBRC); and co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer at TeselaGen Biotechnologies. He holds a PhD in Biophysics from Harvard.
Antoine M. Snijders
Department Head, BioEngineering & BioMedical Sciences
Antoine Snijders is a native of Holland who came to Berkeley Lab in 2008 after a ten-year career in cancer research at the University of California, San Francisco. His research goals are to understand the complex interactions among genetic background, environmental exposures and the microbiome in determining disease risk. His laboratory pursues studies to gain insight into these interactions using mouse population-based cohorts and human epidemiologic studies. Precision medicine is an emerging approach for disease treatment and prevention that takes into account individual variability in environment, lifestyle and genes for each person. Genetic susceptibility is a major component that contributes to the variability in disease susceptibility. Thus, identifying the genes involved in susceptibility to disease risk may have potential utility in developing novel personalized medicines, lead to greater understanding of the biological pathways involved in disease development, and elucidate how environmental factors exert their effects in combination with genetic variants and the gut microbiome. This comprehensive systems biology approach will likely identify specific genes or pathways and microbial clades that are differentially controlled between individuals, and contribute to human variation in susceptibility to environment factor-induced disease. By exploiting the power of mouse genetics using Collaborative Cross (CC) mice, together with human cohort studies his laboratory determines the influence of individual variations in disease susceptibility. The long-term implications of these studies for human health are significant – it may be possible to increase tolerance/robustness to environmental exposures by providing sensitive individuals with probiotics that have select degradation pathways. Moreover, this understanding is important in order to formulate novel preventive strategies including educating health practitioners, families, and public health providers and organizations regarding the potential risks of environmental exposures. Currently, he is the chair of the Berkeley Lab Animal Welfare and Research Committee and the Human Subjects Committee.
Department Head, Process Engineering & Analytics
Deepti Tanjore has been a research scientist at the Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts Development Unit (ABPDU) since its inception in December 2011. As Fermentation team lead with an extensive background in biomass deconstruction and conversion, she has been principal investigator (PI) on numerous industry SPP and CRADA projects. In addition, she served as PI for the Berkeley Lab/BETO Feedstocks Conversion Interface Consortium. Tanjore is a two-time participant in the Lab Corps/Energy I-Corps program and a 2015 Berkeley Lab Women@TheLab awardee. She also serves on the advisory board for the BioManufacturing Program at Laney College in Oakland, Calif.
Tanjore earned her B. Tech. in chemical engineering with a minor in biotechnology from Andhra University in Visakhapatnam, India; her M.S. in biological engineering with a minor in statistics from North Carolina State University; and her Ph.D. in biological engineering from Pennsylvania State University. She conducted post-doctoral research on chemical- and bio-catalysis for the production of bio-jet fuel precursors with Charles Wyman at UC Riverside.