UC Berkeley chemistry professor makes medical history

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Earlier this week, Cal chemistry professor Jay Keasling made medical history after the development of a new antimalarial drug production technique, aimed at saving the millions of people who contract the disease in developing countries all over the world. His 12 year’s worth of findings — including his breakthrough discovery about a chemical named artemisinin — and dedication led to the creation of the new antimalarial drug technique, which was released last week.

If you didn’t catch all of that medical terminology, don’t worry the Clog is here to summarize. The release of this new antimalarial pill is not only a dream come true for Keasling, but it is also attempting to prevent the half a million deaths caused by malaria each year. The most interesting thing about this drug is that it’s synthetic. We’re not sure how it works exactly, but it sounds like they created something out of nothing. To make is even cooler, this is one of the biggest triumphs in the field of synthetic biology, and it was discovered at our school.

Keasling himself gives credit to Cal for helping in this discovery. “This wouldn’t have happened without lots of incredible support from the UC Berkeley campus,” Keasling said. “Some really dedicated people put their careers on the line for it.”

We know it’s hard to remember why we’re torturing ourselves with higher education sometimes, especially with finals and midterms jumping at us every few days. So use this as inspiration of what you can accomplish after graduation. With the information you learn in these next few years, you may be saving thousands of lives in the future. So don’t give up just yet — only three more weeks to go this semester. Your hard work will pay off in the end!

Contact Kristen McFadden at [email protected]