Michael Mendez

FOUNDER & CEO

With 30 years of biotech experience, Mike Mendez has been involved with ten start-up companies and has been a founder of four. He is a leading innovator in biotechnology, and has been at the forefront of the molecular biology revolution. Mr. Mendez is widely regarded as a pioneer in the development of fully human antibodies and is the lead author and co-inventor of the Xenomouse platform technology that formed Abgenix, Inc. This company was acquired by Amgen for $2.2 billion and is considered one of the most successful start-ups in the history of biotechnology. Mike then turned his sights on gene therapy, becoming a world-class virologist and creating the viral vectors for the cancer vaccine technology called GVAX. Mike went on to established a novel platform for the over-expression, purification, and crystallization of membrane proteins for rational drug design, a field that has an impact on a broad set of drugs on the market today.

For six years Mr. Mendez applied his talents in the field of renewable energy as a co-founder and vice president of technology at Sapphire Energy. Sapphire Energy has raised over $400 million in the private sector and had a company valuation of $1 billion. While working at Sapphire Energy, Mike transformed the field of microalgae engineering and created a trait mining platform to discover genes in algae that could be applied to agriculture. Mr. Mendez was able to take this novel trait mining platform and established a multi-year collaboration between Monsanto and Sapphire Energy in the field of yield and stress. All of these efforts have led to making algae a powerful production platform.

Mike was recently a co-founder of Pareto Biotechnologies and was the acting CEO. Mike took over the leadership role and took the company into a new direction, where Pareto became a ‘decorations’ company using prenylation as its key technology. Pareto used this to prenylate economically relevant molecules to enhance, alter, or attenuate their desired properties. Pareto focused on two areas: The development of molecules to treat the short-term inflammatory insult of TBI and to create concussion therapies and a partnership with L’Oréal to develop new and novel molecules using prenylation in the area of cosmetics.

Mr. Mendez has served as a genetic consultant and scientific adviser for numerous biotech and academic institutions, including Geron Corporation, Expression Systems, Ablexis Inc., Vaxart Inc. Soylent Inc, and the California Institute of Technology. He was featured on the 2011 PBS Special: “The Energy of Innovation” (17:22) as a top 7 finalist of Planet Forward innovator of the year award 2011.

Most recent article:

Newsweek: The Promises and Perils of Synthetic Biology, March 11, 2015

Most recent papers:

Georgianna, R.,Hannon M., Wu S., Botsch, K., Lewis, A., Hyun, J., Mendez, M.J. and Mayfield, S.. Production of recombinant enzymes in the marine alga Dunaliella tertiolecta. Algal Research, Vol. 2, Issure 1, Jan, pp:2-9 (2013)

Blatti JL, Beld J., Behnke CA., Mendez M., Mayfield SP., Burkart M.D.. Manipulating fatty acid biosynthesis in microalgae for biofuel through protein-protein interactions. PLoS One. Vol;7(9), Sep 13. (2012)

Rasala BA, Lee PA, Shen Z, Briggs SP, Mendez M, Mayfield SP.. Robust expression and secretion of Xylanase 1 in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii by fusion to a selection gene and processing with the FMDV 2A peptide. PLoS One.Vol;7(8), Aug 24.(2012)

O’Neill BM, Mikkelson KL, Gutierrez NM, Cunningham JL, Wolff KL, Szyjka SJ, Yohn CB, Redding KE and Mendez MJ. An exogenous chloroplast genome for complex sequence manipulation in algae. Nucleic Acids Res.; 40(6):2782-92, March (2012)

Rasala BA, Muto M, Lee PA, Jager M, Cardoso RM, Behnke CA, Kirk P, Hokanson CA, Crea R, Mendez M and Mayfield SP. Production of therapeutic proteins in algae, analysis of expression of seven human proteins in the chloroplast of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. Plant Biotechnol J. Aug; 8(6):719-33. (2010)

Most recent patents:

Michael Mendez, Chris Yohn, April Brand, Transformation of algae for increased lipid production, US PAT. App ‎Filed Feb 1, 2011. Issued patent: US9428779 (‎Issued date Aug 30, 2016)

Michael Mendez, Stephen Mayfield, Bryan O’Neill, Yan Poon, Use of genetically modified organisms to generate biomass degrading enzymes, US Pat. App 12/156,450 – Filed May 30, 2008. Issued patent: US8143039 (Issue date Mar 27, 2012)

Michael Mendez, Su-Chiung Fang, Stephane Richard., Engineering salt tolerance in photosynthetic microorganisms, US Pat. App 13255878 – Filed Mar 11, 2010. US20120094386

Michael Mendez, Craig A. Behnke, Nicole A. Heaps., Variant isoprenoid producing enzymes and uses thereof. US Pat. App 13260696 – Filed Mar 29, 2010. US20120064629

Michael Mendez, Bryan O’Neill, Kari Mikkelson., System for capturing and modifying large pieces of genomic DNA and constructing organisms with synthetic chloroplast genomes. US Pat. App 12384893 – Filed Apr 8, 2009. US20090269816

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