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Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution


The last half century of medical research has placed chemical structures behind much of biology, including human disease, the human genome, and the origin of life. Scientists at the Foundation have contributed broadly to these activities through innovative and polydisciplinary research in fields as diverse as chemistry, informatics, biology, geology, and astronomy. We are now taking the next steps, to place biological chemistry within its larger "systems" context, from the cell to the organism, and from there to the ecosystem and the planet. Emerging from this are new tools for systems biology and personalized medicine, as well as answers to some "big" questions: Where did we come from? What is our future? Are we alone?

Latest News and Events

July 22, 2022. Jan Špaček and Steven Benner joined with Robert Zubrin, head of the Mars Society, today to describe how to search for life on Mars. Their remarks can be found at The New Atlantis.

July 21, 2022. An Event Horizon interview of Steven Benner with John Michael Godier covered many topics in astrobiology and the origin of life. It was just posted here.

June 23, 2022. Work of the Foundation astrobiologist and researcher Steven Benner is featured in a Scientific American piece discussing the management of Mars sample return.

June 7, 2022. Sunniya Zafar, writing in The Globe's Talk, explains how recent Foundation work studying the role of geology in the origin of life is relevant to our exploration of Mars.

June 5, 2022. Writing in LabRoots, Carmen Leitch discusses a series recent reports from the Foundation coauthored by Elisa Biondi, Hyo-Joong Kim, Justin Kim, and Steven Benner, all that suggest that the formation of RNA under prebiotic conditions might be remarkably simple. RNA is thought by many to be the first genetic molecule in the first forms of life on Earth.

June 3, 2022. "Genes in Space Competition" has just announced that Vedant Karalkar, an Eastside High School student being mentored at the Foundation, was selected as one of five finalists in an annual national contest where high school students propose DNA science experiments for the International Space Station. One winner will be selected next month to fly their experiment to the Space Station. Good luck Vedant.

June 3, 2022. Noted science journalists reported today in the prestigeous journal Science the recent report from the Foundation that RNA is formed on igneous basalt rock that was abundant on the surface of the Earth 4.35 billion years ago. RNA is thought by many to be the first genetic molecule in the first forms of life on Earth.

Press Coverage

WCJB - Gainesville: Vedant Karalkar, a local student being mentored at the Foundation, became a finalist in the "Genes in Space" competition
June 3, 2022

Chemistry World: FfAME researcher Elisa Biondi gives input on how mineral surfaces promoted variation in prebiotic RNA.
March 5, 2019

The New York Times: Work at the FfAME was the topic of an article by the noted science journalist Carl Zimmer in today's New York Times.
February 21, 2019

LifeScience: LiveScience reviewed today recent work done at the FfAME and Firebird Biomolecular Sciences expanding the DNA genetic alphabet.
February 21, 2019

ChemistryWorld: Katrina Kramer writes about how FfAME's 8-letter genetic code hints at how alien life might evolve
February 21, 2019

ORF.at Science: Austrian news outlet ORF.at details research at FfAME and Firebird Biomolecular Sciences that was recently published in Science.
February 21, 2019

Popular Mechanics: Steven Benner is featured in an article about how a maelstrom of molten iron could have been the basis for life on Earth.
January 15, 2019

Science Magazine: Research from FfAME's 2018 OOL Atlanta Conference is highlighted in a discussion on the RNA first model of the origins of life.
January 11, 2019

New Scientist: Work at the Foundation on the origin of life was a focus of a piece by Penny Sarchet in the June 2018 edition of New Scientist.
June 13, 2018

National Public Radio: Steven Benner was interviewed on NPR where pioneering efforts at the FfAME expanding the genetic alphabet were acknowledged.
November 29, 2017

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