WELCOME to the 39 North monthly Newsletter
Your source for news and happenings in our innovation neighborhood. | September 2022
$50,000 Match Available for Pedal the Cause Donations Made Oct 22 & 23

The 39 North Pedal the Cause Team is gearing up for the event this weekend. if you donate on Oct 22 or 23, your money will be tripled thanks to matching funds from the Danforth Center, 39 North, and a group of donors who have put up $50K in matching funds for Pedal the Cause. It takes cutting-edge research to create a world without cancer. By participating in Pedal the Cause, we know that 100% of our donations will go directly to accelerating cancer research at Siteman Cancer Center and St. Louis Children's Hospital.
Weekly Scientific Seminar Series

The Danforth Center hosts a complimentary weekly virtual Scientific Seminar Series on a variety of topics. Click here for a listing of upcoming seminars and join the conversation! If you would like to be on the email list for these seminars, please contact Terri Burton, at tburton@danforthcenter.org.
September 28
GeoResolution Conference
Busch Student Center, Saint Louis University
Geospatial Perspectives on Climate Change: Predicting and Mitigating Effects
September 28, 7 - 8 PM
Story Collider
Public Media Commons St. Louis Public Radio
This month the show will feature Keith Duncan, PhD, Research Scientist, Danforth Plant Science Center. Learn more about how Keith uses X-ray CT technology to explore complex root systems!
October 11 - 13
AgTech NEXT
Reinventing a Food System in Crisis, Trade, Technology, and Talent
Join us as we host the first in-person AgTech NEXT at the Danforth Plant Science Center. We have a great program, reserve your spot today! 
October 22, 12 - 4 PM
Raspberry Pi Jam
Danforth Plant Science Center
Hands-on science, tinkering, and robotics for the whole family. A free event bringing together students, educators, makers, scientists, and community members of all ages interested in the world of scientific innovation and robotics.
April 30 - May 4, 2023
The 16th Annual International Society for Biosafety Research (ISBR) Symposium
Union Station St Louis



Controlling Crop Damaging Insects
In 2017, Impetus Agriculture was formed to take on a new idea to control crop-damaging insects. KWS, a 160+ year old seed company based in Germany and 39 North, had a new way to control these insects but it wasn’t their strategy to advance the technology itself. Familiar with the agtech startup nature of St. Louis and 39 North, KWS collaborated with BioGenerator and The Yield Lab to bring Impetus Ag to life.

According to the company, insects continue to develop resistance to current technologies. “We are currently focused on enhancing current biological Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) protein insect control products to achieve chemical like control. These products are sold today both as topical products in fruit and vegetable markets and as transgenic traits,” said CEO Martha Schlicher.
Have you met?

Veene Veena, PhD
Principal Investigator and Director Plant Transformation Facility, Danforth Plant Science Center

Describe your journey to the Danforth Center?
Born and raised in India, I have been intrigued by plants and their ability to tolerate, optimize, and grow under conditions we need to shelter for survival. My curiosity led me to pursue a PhD in plant molecular biology to functionally characterize genes and study their role in helping plants survive unfavorable environmental conditions. I completed my PhD at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, and the International Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) under Prof. Sudhir Sopory PhD. My next stop was at Purdue University, where I spent a few years as a postdoc with Prof. Stan Gelvin PhD, a leading researcher in Agrobacterium-mediated plant transformation. Thereafter, I joined Chris Taylor, PhD, at Donald Danforth Plant Science Center to further my research in the genetic engineering of plants. My goal was to leverage the utility of plant transformation technologies to generate improved crops with traits that can tackle the global challenges of food security and sustainability, including the impacts of climate change.

The drive to apply my knowledge to real-world challenges in food and feed led me to join Monsanto (now Bayer), where I contributed to the development of novel genome-modification technologies for the generation of plants with improved traits. I gained fantastic experience working with various cross-functional teams, including agronomic traits, regulatory, trait integration, technology acquisition, and business strategy.

I returned to the Danforth Center in 2016 as a Director & Principal Investigator of the Plant Transformation Facility. As one of the premier institutions and state-of-the-art plant transformation facilities globally, my team collaborates with academic and commercial clients helping test new ideas for crop improvement by utilizing novel genome modification technologies. I am also actively involved in the Society of In Vitro Biology (SIVB). As a Vice Chair of the Plant Biotechnology Section, I advocate to further the importance of plant biotechnology to emerging scientists and the general public in meeting challenges of global food security in a sustainable manner.
 
What are you most excited to be working on right now?
My role as a Director of the Plant Transformation Facility allows me to collaborate with many PIs from the Danforth Center and across the globe on a variety of research projects ranging from developing and optimizing novel genome modification technologies to creating new crops with improved nutritional value, enhanced yield potential, ability to tolerate adverse environmental conditions, and to have improved carbon sequestration potential. Every project we work on is unique and exciting, primarily because of how these research projects can impact the growing demands of plants with improved traits and recognition of St. Louis and 39 North as a leader in agtech research and commercialization.
 
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
Spending time with my family and friends, cooking and painting.
The Danforth Center’s Plant Transformation Facility (PTF) focuses on the exploration and utilization of genetic engineering technologies to generate transgenic plants to accelerate plant biology research and crop improvement. The facility provides full-service plant transformation and plant cell biology services, training, consulting and access to state-of-the-art equipment to the plant research community. It also operates as a self-service by providing high-quality workspace to meet project specific demands for researchers. These crop improvements result in technologies that can help feed our growing world more sustainably.
Have news to share?
Please contact: Dena Holtgrewe, dholtgrewe@danforthcenter.org