Viridos (formerly Synthetic Genomics, Inc.) is a California-based biotechnology company
harnessing the power of photosynthesis to create transformative solutions to mitigate climate change.

Founded in 2005 by leading figures in synthetic biology, including J Craig Venter and Hamilton Smith, Synthetic Genomics now Viridos quickly established itself as a powerhouse for innovative research, transplanting the first genome, synthesizing the first bacterial genome, and creating the first synthetic cell.

Over the past 16 years, we’ve created a legacy of genomic innovations, building the tools, scientific data, and applied knowledge to address unsolved challenges in pharmaceuticals, energy, and life sciences.


We’re concentrating our algal genomics expertise on decarbonizing heavy transportation.

Our name change to Viridos reflects that single-minded focus, referencing the Latin word viridis, meaning green, fresh, and lively. More importantly, our work with microalgae to decarbonize entire industries and create products that are in harmony with nature will provide the solutions needed for a greener and more prosperous future.

In partnership with ExxonMobil, our initial deployment is a scalable platform for low-carbon intensity biofuels, which can reduce greenhouse gas emissions from aviation, commercial trucking, and maritime shipping by nearly 70%. By establishing desert-based production sites to grow Viridos-engineered microalgae in saltwater, we’re creating the foundation for a biofuel future that moves away from fossil fuels without competing for precious resources such as fresh water and arable land.

As we move closer to commercialization, our team of scientists are developing more advanced bioengineering tools and knowledge to create new products and processes that will support a sustainable bioeconomy

Our mission is nothing less than helping
to save the planet.

We’re creating solutions for sustainability that don’t yet exist

At Viridos, our purpose is to design revolutionary technologies, products, and deployment systems that enable businesses and governments to implement sustainable solutions to mitigate climate change.

While this is a bold mission, at Viridos, we have some unique capabilities that enable us to achieve it. These include continuous genomic innovation, systems to maximize biological productivity, precision algal crop management tools, and scalable deployment platforms.

With these capabilities, we’re replacing today’s unsustainable systems with products and processes that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and ultimately help create a future where we all can thrive.

We are excited to be onboarding new partners and investors as we move closer to commercialization.

They are joining us for five simple reasons:
Urgency of our mission – We are tackling one of the most vital, but hardest to decarbonize, segments of our economy – heavy-duty transportation. It’s an urgency that’s hard to ignore.
Genomic expertise – Our unparalleled scientific achievements are evidence of an IP toolkit and skilled team capable of tackling even greater challenges.
Translating from lab to the real world – Converting lab-based innovations into real-world applicability is fundamental to achieving our Purpose.
Sustainability of our solution – Minimizing land and freshwater use and maintaining ecosystem compatibility are only a few examples of meeting our goal to provide future generations with solutions, not more problems.
Scale of our vision – Viridos' decade-long partnership with ExxonMobil is a reflection of the size of the challenge. Our commitment to working with other world-class partners is at the heart of our vision and defines the global scale of our solutions.

We've been innovating on behalf of the planet and its residents since 2005.

Since our founding, we’ve pioneered genomic innovations that have been incorporated into new technologies, spun off into companies across multiple industries, and codified in more than 100 patents.
First genome transplanted
As a key proof of principle in synthetic biology, our transplanting of the first genome was an important step towards realizing the goal of creating a synthetic organism that can help solve global health and sustainability challenges.
First bacterial genome synthesized
This synthetic genome – the largest man-made DNA structure created – was regarded as a striking technical accomplishment and formed the groundwork of our synthetic biology platform.
Isothermal DNA assembly

This assembly method, first published in Nature Methods, can be used to seamlessly construct synthetic and natural genes, genetic pathways, and entire genomes and functions as a useful molecular engineering tool.

First synthetic cell created
We developed the first self-replicating synthetic cell, a bacterial cell that was designed in the computer and brought to life through chemical synthesis, without using any elements of natural DNA. This enables the development of many important cell-based applications, including vaccines, pharmaceuticals, biofuels, and food products.
Synthetic flu vaccine
Responding to a global health threat posed by the H7N9 bird flu, we developed a synthetic approach that rapidly generated a vaccine seed from downloadable sequence data.
Automated DNA, RNA, and protein production

Viridos developed a cloning module – a new capability that automates and expedites DNA cloning – a procedure used in nearly every academic and commercial molecular biology laboratory worldwide. Based on this innovation, we developed an automated manufacturing process that significantly reduced the time it takes to create DNA constructs for therapeutic research and development programs, clearing the path for a wide range of research applications.

At the core of this process is the BioXp, the world's first benchtop DNA printer, an automated instrument that enables biotechnology, pharmaceutical, academic, or government laboratories to create DNA from electronically transmitted sequence data. We successfully spun off this technology into a new company in 2019, now called Codex DNA.

Engineered phage

We developed “supercharged” phages, a type of virus, to combat antibiotic-resistant strains of Pseudomonas, a bug that causes skin infections, sepsis, and potentially fatal pneumonia.


Phage therapy has the potential to treat multidrug-resistant bacterial infections. Based on our engineered phage, we developed a proprietary bacteriophage engineering platform to address the inherent limitations of natural phage as a therapeutic. Armata Pharmaceuticals is now deploying the Viridos IP to generate clinical candidates and bacteriophage therapies.

Lipid switch
Viridos discovered the genetic switch that enables the concurrent growth and increased production of lipids.
First minimal cell
We built the first minimal synthetic bacterial cell. This is the smallest genome of any organism that can be grown in laboratory media. This feat led to new tools and semi-automated processes for whole-genome synthesis, aiding in more efficient development of biologic drugs.
Algae biofuel breakthrough

Together with ExxonMobil, we modified an algae strain that more than doubled its oil content without inhibiting the strain’s growth. The results were published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Biotechnology.

Engineered pig cells: Growing organs for transplantation
In partnership with United Therapeutics, Viridos developed the capabilities to engineer pig cells with the goal of generating humanized pig organs for transplantation. Based on the IP we developed and its pre-clinical progress, United Therapeutics assumed full control of the program with the goal to generate xenotransplants for the million+ people in the US alone who have end-stage organ disease.
Successful Trait Stacking and Gene Knockout

Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), we successfully “stacked” seven different genes in a microalgae’s genome, as well as knocked out redundant genes. Ultimately, this allows for a single strain to express multiple desirable traits simultaneously.

Nutritional proteins and oils spinoff

Acknowledging the global need for more sustainable vegetarian food protein sources, our discovery and improvement of algae strains that ferment sugars into high-quality nutritional proteins and oils provided a solution. Based on this work, Smallfoods, a recently launched company, developed food proteins and oils from non‐engineered algal strains developed by Viridos.

Our algae biofuels collaboration goes outdoor
Our long-standing collaboration with ExxonMobil took a big leap forward with the implementation of the California Advanced Algae Facility (CAAF), where we are piloting the next generation of our joint algae biofuels program.
Self-replicating RNA medicines: Innovative vaccines and therapeutics
We developed a proprietary RNA replicon platform to selectively stimulate the immune system and deliver targeted therapies produced within a person’s own body. The RNA platform overcomes common shortcomings of traditional replicon and messenger RNA (mRNA) technologies, enabling a new class of vaccines and combination therapies to combat cancer and infectious diseases. The platform has been successfully partnered with leading human and animal health companies.
Outdoor algal bio-oil performance reaches new high
Viridos achieved outdoor algal bio-oil productivity of 5 grams/m2/day – an industrially relevant scale – at the California Advanced Algal Facility using our best-performing proprietary microalgal strains. This is substantially higher than what has been reported in the field and a key milestone towards our goal of deploying microalgae to produce low carbon intensity fuels at scale.
Viridos secures additional EPA approval for outdoor cultivation

Viridos obtained additional EPA approvals to conduct outdoor cultivation of our lead algal biofuels strains. By granting the ability to perform extensive environmental monitoring, we can transfer our most productive strains from the lab to a real-world setting. This real-world performance accelerates a virtuous “Design-Build-Test” cycle of continuous improvement in strain productivity and robustness and provides evidence that our strains are not harmful to the surrounding environment.


We’re a team committed to building transformative solutions to address climate change.

Leadership Team
Oliver Fetzer, Ph.D., MBA
Chief Executive Officer
Doug Miller
Chief Financial Officer
Margaret Dunbar, M.S., J.D.
Viridos Attorney, Acting Head of IP
Rob Brown, Ph,D.
Vice President, Research
Michele Rubino, M.S., MBA
Head of Business Development
David Hanselman, Ph.D.
Regulatory and Government Affairs; Quality
Brittney Maxey, PHR
Human Resources
Eric Moellering, Ph.D.
Strain Development
Jay McCarren, Ph.D.
Microbial Discovery
Kelly T. Clark, CISSP
Information Technology and Security
Jennifer Nominati, PMP
Program Management
Board of Directors
Oliver Fetzer, Ph.D., MBA
Chief Executive Officer

Our collaboration with ExxonMobil brings algae biofuel to the world stage.

A long-term partnership to address climate change
For more than a decade, Viridos and ExxonMobil have collaborated on creating a deeper understanding of algae metabolism for biofuel production. Drawing from our genomic toolkit, we’ve increased microalgae oil productivity to levels that make biofuel production a reality.

With our joint 2018 announcement of achieving previously unattained productivity, we confirmed our commitment to commercialization by 2025. Benefitting from ExxonMobil’s proven track record of breakthrough engineering products and large-scale deployment, we are building a platform to produce scalable, sustainable low-carbon biofuels. The initial part of this program was the establishment of our pilot production site – California Advanced Algal Facility (CAAF) – in the southern California desert.

By building desert-based production sites with Viridos-engineered microalgae that thrive in saltwater, we are creating the foundation for a biofuel future that moves away from fossil fuels without competing for precious resources such as fresh water and arable land. More importantly, Viridos’ algal biofuel delivers almost a 70% reduction in GHG emissions over the fossil fuels it displaces. And sourcing renewable energy for the operations lowers the carbon footprint of algal biofuels even further.

At CAAF, we continue to convert achievements in the lab to new levels of outdoor algal oil productivity in a real-world production setting. These steps are essential for shaping a viable algal biofuel platform. As we move toward commercialization, we are also designing the AI-based agronomic system to scale our technology to meet the global needs of our partners and customers.