From Small Communities To Big Innovations

Patrick Boyle started his career in synthetic biology just as the field was formally taking shape.  Now Head of Codebase at Ginkgo Bioworks, Patrick was one of the first generations of students to complete his entire graduate program in synbio — and he had the unique opportunity to study under the industry’s pioneers. Back then, the field was still a small community.

He’s no stranger to small communities – in fact, he learned to thrive in them. Raised in Alaska and the son of two educators who moved to the state to enhance academic opportunities for indigenous communities, Patrick experienced a uniquely austere lifestyle growing up, living in tiny villages dependent on monthly food shipments and local food like salmon and cranberries. It was like living on Mars, Patrick says.

“I originally wanted to study aerospace engineering, and be an astronaut,” he remembers. That plan quickly changed when he arrived at MIT as an undergraduate and saw what was possible with molecular biology. Those possibilities, he recalls, “blew his mind.”

When he arrived in Boston, Patrick faced an understandable degree of culture shock – from a tiny village to a college town, and from Yupik community culture to a metropolitan lifestyle, away from his family and Filipino roots and into a culturally diverse network of classmates and faculty.

“My history involved acquiring a different level of privilege every few years. I went to a public high school in Alaska and somehow made it to MIT for college, and Harvard for grad school,” Patrick says. “The second I arrived [at MIT], the opportunities I had access to changed. All of the opportunities I have today are so different from the ones I was born into – and it makes me really think about all of the people who didn’t stumble into MIT and Harvard, and earn the privilege that I did.”

Dr. Patrick Boyle

Patrick says he tries to always maintain awareness of that privilege and of his roots, because he believes privilege becomes invisible once a person benefits from the experience of it. He also carries that mindfulness into how he manages and leads within the organization, and particularly, into Ginkgo’s hiring and recruiting practices.

“When you’re bringing in brilliant people that are really amazing in different areas, from all over the world, it’s really humbling,” Patrick explains. “[Ginkgo Founder] Tom Knight taught me that if you always feel like you’re hiring people that are smarter than yourself you’ll never regret it, and that’s definitely what we strive to do here.”

Patrick credits Knight, who was formerly a MIT professor, with fostering a culture of collaboration with very little hierarchy. According to Patrick, Knight is always willing to be in the lab and helping others, where he encourages dialogue and learning.

Ultimately, Patrick believes that Ginkgo is a place where he’s been able to not only grow, but also put down strong community roots. And he’s committed to helping others do the same.

From Intern to Senior Scientist

Ramya Prathuri studied bioengineering at UC Berkeley the first year the university offered a synthetic biology track. At a conference she attended as an undergrad, Ramya happened to encounter Ginkgo Bioworks CEO Jason Kelly. The team was still in its early startup phase, with fewer than 20 employees, and its vision intrigued her.

Ramya applied for an internship right out of college. She remembers an informal process that involved an interview with [Ginkgo Co-Founder] Barry Canton. Ramya joined the team, and over the next two years she grew in her role as the company grew from a promising startup into a major synbio player.

Many of Ramya’s mentors encouraged her to pursue her PhD, as they had, since the valuable experience can help young scientists grow and learn quickly. Though Ramya started a PhD, she decided to master out of the program after some time.

“While I am happy to have gotten the opportunity to study among talented scientists in my PhD program, what I learned [from that experience] is that you really shouldn’t do a PhD for the name, but because you really have a passion for the science and experience” Ramya explains. “People warned me that without it, I may not be able to grow in my career or be limited to doing rote work, but as I started my doctoral lab rotations, I realized that wasn’t true based on my time at Ginkgo.”

Shortly after her master’s, Ramya returned to Ginkgo as a scientist, where she was welcomed back to her original team with open arms. Today she’s progressed to the role of senior scientist, and leads a subteam of the High Throughput Screen team within Ginkgo’s Foundries, working largely with enzyme assays.

Ramya Prathuri

“I’ve always gravitated towards enzymology [the study of enzymes], and I find that in working in Ginkgo’s Foundry, there is never a dull moment with the breadth of development work we take in,” she says of her current position.

As someone who has watched Ginkgo evolve from its earliest stages to being the publicly traded company it is today, and who has built relationships with its founding members over the years, Ramya says that she enjoys and values advocating for others, and aspires to lift their voices in the workplace.

Ginkgo’s culture is especially powerful, Ramya says, for two main reasons: “transparency from leadership all the way down, and that all employees are expected to share their opinions”

“This culture of communication means that we rely heavily on employee input to make big decisions on the direction of the company, and also to flag things that need to be fixed,” she adds.

At Ginkgo, Ramya sees a diversity of personalities treated with respect, regardless of their seniority, role, or educational background. Since her earliest days as an intern, she feels like her voice has been heard, and as a growing leader, she works diligently to make sure others feel heard, too.

The Business of Science at Ginkgo

Felipe Sarmiento

Felipe Sarmiento approaches the synbio field, and his career path, a bit differently than most. Felipe, who holds both a PhD in microbiology and an MBA, saw the potential to build a robust career in the business of science when finishing his doctoral program. His previous role was at a small enzyme development company, who he had known for years through a mutual Chilean connection.

“I worked at a small firm alongside Ginkgo as our partner on a particular bioengineering project, and I found that I just loved their mission,” Felipe says. “I also really liked their interactions, and how they were so open and connected with me, and with each other.”

After seeing Ginkgo’s mission and people in action, Felipe decided to join the company, even though it meant leaving a team he deeply appreciated and had worked with throughout his early career.

“The more I got to know the Ginkgo team and learn about the company’s technology and core culture, the more I realized that I just wanted to be one of them,” he recalls.

This realization led Felipe to pursue a role through his partnership colleagues, some of whom are still his teammates. Felipe now facilitates synbio business relationships as one of Ginkgo’s Directors of Commercial Operations and was part of Ginkgo’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee for about two years. He believes that the openness he experienced and the type of unique and diverse individuals that Ginkgo hires are key components of what gives the company its business superpowers.

“The thing I love the most here is this feeling of openness, and I want other innovators to be able to experience what I did.” Felipe explains. “To me, Ginkgo’s openness means you always find the information that you need, and you always find support and camaraderie in your colleagues. It happens at all levels, too – it’s very normal for any one of us to be able to work directly with members of leadership like [Ginkgo Bioworks Founders] Reshma, Tom, and Jason.”

It also helps that everyone at Ginkgo is a special Pokemon, he jokes, with the opportunity to evolve. “One of our company values is ‘whimsy’ and when you arrive at Gingko you’re informally assigned a Pokemon according to your hiring number in the company,” he explains, laughing. “Even though most people would probably prefer to be Pikachu or Charmander, at #139, I’m now assigned Omastar [similar to an ammonite fossil]. I used to be Mew [a rare Pokemon]…and that was MUCH cooler!”

Values like these, Felipe says, give people the space to have fun at work, and engage with a creative, connected culture that’s truly unlike other biotech and synbio firms. And having fun is important, he says, because while there’s plenty of hard work to be done as Ginkgo moves toward a bolder, more visionary future for science and humanity, it’s infinitely easier to make that happen in an uplifting environment.

Ginkgo Donates Chromebooks to 3 Organizations

At Gingko, we recognize that electronic waste is a large contributor to environmental racism. As we continue to grow and our needs change, we have sought ways to minimize our impact on the environment in several ways, including beginning a composting program in our community kitchen spaces and donating equipment instead of disposing of it.

This year, we had the opportunity to donate over 100 Chromebooks to three organizations. These donations not only helped to minimize our impact on the environment, but also allowed us to support organizations whose missions align with our own, including Minds of Jamaica, Kids in Tech, and the DataTrail Program.

DataTrail DataTrail is a no-cost, paid 14-week educational initiative for young-adult, high school and GED-graduates. DataTrail aims to equip members of underserved communities with the necessary skills and support required to work in the booming field of data science. Kids in Tech excites, educates, and empowers children to acquire skills and confidence in technology through interactive after school programs, helping kids develop the necessary tech skills and aptitudes to participate in and be future leaders of the 21st-century innovation economy. And finally, Minds of Jamaica is a mentorship platform that gives underrepresented minority students access to professionals in the community to provide mentorship opportunities in fields such as engineering, arts, science, technology, and more. Minds of Jamaica also offers their mentees unique training opportunities in bioinformatics and data science.

The first of these donations have begun reaching students in Jamaica and Trinidad and are already making a difference. One student, who up until now has been working from home due to COVID, has been working off of her cell phone for the last year. With our donations to Minds of Jamaica, she is now able to participate fully in her education.

We hope to continue to build our relationship with these organizations and look for other ways to reduce our environmental impact in the world while leveraging our resources to open the gates to STEM careers more widely to historically marginalized communities.



Ginkgo Sponsors BlackinX Conference

The BlackinX network hosted the first BlackinX Conference, virtually featuring keynote speakers Dr. Kilan Bishop, Dr. Keisha S. Ray and Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett. Started in response to the New York Black Birder incident, various BlackinX events was created to highlight the collective issues Black professionals face on their career journeys and to foster community for and by Black professionals.

Ginkgo was privileged and honored to sponsor the inaugural BlackinX conference bringing together Black professionals across the spectrum of skills and experiences contributing to the organization. From the opening session through Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett’s exhortation to “remember where you conquered” the conferenced helped to ensure participants pulled on the resilience and strength they have developed in arriving in the spaces they now hold.

Opening the conference on June 29 were speakers Samantha Mesah, co-founding President of #BlackinChem, Paige Greenwood, of #BlackinNeuro, Alfred Mays, of the Burroughs Welcome Fund, and Jason Kelly who shared his congratulations and thanks on behalf of Ginkgo for allowing us to support.

At Ginkgo, we recognize that there’s a serious lack of diversity in our industry, and that needs to change. Our goal is to help drive that change. Ginkgo is deeply committed to diversity, equity and inclusion in all of its practices, especially when it comes to growing our team. Our culture promotes inclusion and embraces how rewarding it is to work with people from all walks of life. Our hope is that by supporting BlackinX, we can help to remedy some of the challenges this systematically underutilized community faces, not just in Bio Engineering, but across the full spectrum of skills BlackinX supports.

Congratulations again to BlackinX organizers and we look forward to working with you as you continue to thrive.

Dr. Marta Baffy and Dr. Mackenzie Price Discuss Communications

Stemming from a series of conversations about how to make meetings more equitable and ensure that all voices are heard across the company, Ginkgo was honored to have Dr. Marta Baffy and Dr. Mackenzie Price present their research and provide a framework for inclusive communication and tips on how to communicate effectively across varying social norms. Drs Baffy and Price have extensive experience in the field of linguistics and shared key concepts, including where communication norms come from, how we learn to use language, and how we evaluate our own, and other people’s, ways of communicating. 

They shared with the team concepts to be aware of as we communicate across the company, including how people use language to communicate and how they evaluate each other. We discussed the ways leaders and peers could think about who is expected to adapt and accommodate their communications to succeed, and how to assess our own language practices to ensure an equitable flow of communication.

After the presentation, panelists opened the floor for questions and stayed for 45 minutes with Ginkgo team members to discuss strategies and challenges to open, equitable communication across the company.

Ginkgo Hosts Society of Underrepresented Biologists Panel

The Society of Underrepresented Biologists and Biological Engineers at MIT (SUBE) aims to empower underrepresented minority students in the biological and bioengineering departments at MIT by furthering their academic, social, and professional prospects and cultivating a community where diversity and inclusion are necessary and appreciated. On April 28th, Ginkgo hosted a panel and networking session featuring three Bioworkers who shared their experiences on the road to Ginkgo, including Beatriz Pacheco, Krithika Vaidyanathan, and Vinita Lukose.

Moderated by MIT student Eileen Tan-Aristy, the panel discussed how their identities shaped their experiences. While reflecting on their experiences, the panelists described how their various identities–including as immigrants, as women, or as people of color–impacted them in ways both negative and positive, that shaped their careers. Importantly, each shared the ways their experiences gave them unique strengths they bring to the field. At the end of the discussion, Eileen opened the floor to questions from students, and the discussion continued, including questions about how students could help increase access for underrepresented students coming behind, as well as what experience or opportunities they should seek out as they start on their professional journeys.

After the panel, students and Bioworkers from across the company spent time in a virtual meeting place to network. We look forward to continuing to build the relationship between SUBE and Ginkgo and hosting more events in the future.

1,000,000,000 Base Pairs of DNA

Twist Bioscience to Provide One Billion Base Pairs of Synthetic DNA to Ginkgo Bioworks to Support Expansion into New Industries

Ginkgo Bioworks and Twist Bioscience Continue to Drive Industry Growth

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. and BOSTON, Mass. – October 3, 2017 – Ginkgo Bioworks, the organism company, and Twist Bioscience Corporation, a company enabling customers to succeed through its offering of rapid, high-quality synthetic DNA, today announced the expansion of a supply agreement for one billion base pairs of synthetic DNA – the largest volume supply agreement in the industry. The supply agreement will include genes up to five kilobases in length.

Ginkgo intends to use the one billion base pairs of synthetic DNA for work in its newest automated foundry for organism design, Bioworks3, opening in November 2017. The third foundry will be used in part by the new company that Ginkgo and Bayer recently launched with $100M in Series A funding focused on nitrogen fixation for sustainable agriculture. This supply of synthetic DNA will also fuel Ginkgo’s continued expansion into new industries for a wider breadth of companies to leverage the power of biology in their lines of business.

“An increasingly diverse scope of companies are looking to tap the power of biology to rethink traditional manufacturing, and demand for synthetic biology is at an all time high,” said Jason Kelly, CEO and co-founder of Ginkgo Bioworks. “Our continued partnership with Twist allows us to meet those demands and scale our work so we can continue to bring biology to new industries. We’re excited to be at the forefront of this shift and Twist is a critical part of the equation.”

Twist Bioscience has been supplying synthetic DNA to Ginkgo Bioworks since November of 2015, when the companies announced an agreement for Twist Bioscience to deliver a minimum of 100 million base pairs of synthetic DNA over the course of 2016 — a quantity equal to approximately 10 percent of the total DNA synthesis market in 2015. Ginkgo is the largest consumer of synthetic DNA globally, and with this supply expansion, it is expected to order approximately one third of the global supply of synthetic DNA.

Emily M. Leproust, Ph.D., CEO of Twist Bioscience commented, “We are thrilled to enable Ginkgo’s exponential expansion as we are the only provider of synthetic DNA capable of supporting their rapidly increasing DNA needs. Our ongoing collaboration, pairing Ginkgo’s tremendous organism design capabilities and Twist Bioscience’s core DNA synthesis scalability, showcases the growth of the bioeconomy by enabling the development of sustainable methods for producing new and important consumer goods.”

About Ginkgo Bioworks 
Headquartered in Boston, Ginkgo Bioworks uses the most advanced technology on the planet – biology – to grow products instead of manufacture them. The company’s technology platform is bringing biotechnology into consumer goods markets, enabling fragrance, cosmetic, nutrition, food companies, and more to make better products. For more information, visit

About Twist Bioscience Corporation
At Twist Bioscience Corporation, we work in service of customers who are changing the world for the better. In fields such as medicine, agriculture, industrial chemicals and data storage, by using our synthetic DNA tools, our customers are developing ways to better lives and improve the sustainability of the planet. The faster our customers succeed, the better for all of us, and Twist Bioscience is uniquely positioned to help accelerate their efforts.

Our innovative silicon-based DNA Synthesis Platform provides precision at a scale that is otherwise unavailable to our customers. Our platform technologies overcome inefficiencies and enable cost-effective, rapid, precise, high-throughput synthesis and sequencing, providing both the quality and quantity of the tools they need to rapidly realize the opportunity ahead. For more information about our products and services, please visit Twist Bioscience is on Twitter. Sign up to follow our Twitter feed @TwistBioscience at


Twist Bioscience Contacts:
Argot Partners
Maeve Conneighton
[email protected]

Angela Bitting
[email protected]

Ginkgo Bioworks Contacts:
Jordyn Lee
[email protected]