Kevin M. Esvelt

Kevin M. Esvelt

Kevin M. Esvelt

Assistant Professor
MIT Media Lab

Kevin M. Esvelt is an assistant professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab, where he leads the Sculpting Evolution Group in exploring evolutionary and ecological engineering. Esvelt received his Ph.D. in biochemistry from Harvard University in 2010 for his invention of Phage-Assisted Continuous Evolution (PACE), which he used to create a synthetic microbial ecosystem to rapidly evolve useful biomolecules. He subsequently helped pioneer the development of CRISPR, a powerful new method of genome engineering.  Esvelt identified the potential for “gene drive” systems based on CRISPR to alter wild populations of organisms. Recognizing the implications of an advance that could enable individual scientists to alter the shared environment, he and his colleagues revealed their findings and called for open discussion and safeguards before demonstrating gene drive in the laboratory. His Sculpting Evolution Group is developing safer “daisy drives” that can only spread locally, and recently began working with island communities on a possible way to prevent Lyme disease in the environment.