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Welcome to the
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

March 1, 2019. This Friday, National Public Radio will discuss work at the Foundation on its award winning "Science Friday" show.

February 26, 2019. Work at the Foundation on expanded DNA has appeared in the popular press in South Korea. Full article can be found here.

February 21, 2019. Scientists Create a Synthetic DNA Built from Eight Building Blocks
In an article published today in Science, scientists at FfAME, in collaboration with Firebird Biomolecular Sciences, Indiana University School of Medicine, DNA Software, the University of Texas at Austin, and the University of Chicago report the creation of a new form of DNA that doubles the four building blocks found in natural DNA, making a new 8-letter synthetic genetic system. It is called "hachimoji" DNA, from the Japanese "hachi" meaning "eight", and "moji" meaning "letter", and promises a diversity of applications both on Earth and in the search for life elsewhere in the cosmos. For more information, see the complete press release.

February 21, 2019. Nature magazine has published a news report covering work at the Foundation that was done in collaboration with research teams at Firebird Biomolecular Sciences LLC (Alachua, FL), Indiana University School of Medicine (Indianapolis), the University of Texas (Austin), and the University of Chicago.

February 1, 2019. Steven Benner, Distinguished Fellow at the Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution, had an open conversation with the award-winning science journalist Carl Zimmer in New York City, discussing life, the universe, and the scientific method. A podcast recording the conversation can be found here. A copy of his book on the subject can be found here.

October 22, 2018. Steven Benner, Distinguished Fellow at the Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution, comments on the recent award of the Nobel Prize to Frances Arnold for her work applying molecular evolution to protein engineering.

September 28, 2018. The Fernbank Planetarium will be presenting a world premiere of a new planetarium show entitled "Origin of Life: New Answers to Old Questions about Stars, Rocks and Life". Doors will open at Fernbank at 7:00 PM, October 16, allowing visitors to see Fernbank's famous meteorite collection, Denver Museum's collections of minerals important in life's origins, and the actual command module from Apollo 6. Please see our flyer for more information.

Press Coverage

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 Krämer 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

Astrobiology at NASA: A Big Repeating Molecule May Be What Defines Life
August 2, 2017

We thank NASA and STScI for the image of the Milky Way.
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