Open Yeast Collection: simplifying enzyme protein engineering to amplify global innovation in climate science.

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About This Project

Yeast, a robust protein expression system, efficiently produces a wide array of proteins cost-effectively and with scale. Open technologies, like the Open Yeast Collection, empower innovators across disciplines driving creative and collaborative problem-solving. Open toolkits expedite collective efforts against climate change and enable regional customization, addressing unique climate challenges by extending participation to resource-limited areas and elsewhere for localized climate solutions.

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What is the context of this research?

Yeast, a robust protein expression system, efficiently produces a wide array of proteins cost-effectively and scalably [1]. Open technologies, like the Open Yeast Collection [2], empower innovators across disciplines, driving creative, collaborative problem-solving. Engineering protein secretion during enzyme production reduces downstream purification costs [3]. Open toolkits [4] facilitate global knowledge sharing, expediting collective efforts against climate change. These toolkits enable regional customization, addressing unique climate challenges. Streamlined genetic construct design, build & testing accelerates solutions for rapidly evolving climate issues. Reduced costs democratize genetic engineering, extending participation to resource-limited areas for localized climate solutions.

What is the significance of this project?

At the cutting edge of biomanufacturing, microbial systems dominate medical applications. Yet, addressing climate challenges requires materials at a broader & grander industrial scale, necessitating interdisciplinary collaboration. In addition to bioreactor improvements, the true catalyst for change lies in the efficiency of microbes. We propose an open yeast system that can secrete target proteins and thereby offer a unique opportunity to overcome cost barriers. The ease of harvest due to: reduced proteolysis, continuous production, increased yields, and a lighter intracellular burden. Furthermore an open DNA toolkit removes significant constraints of accessibility & affordability that hinders broader global participation, propelling us forward in our quest for a more sustainable planet.

What are the goals of the project?

To unlock this potential, our goals involve assembling and testing a range of ready-made characterized open (IP-free) yeast protein expression vectors using the full Open Yeast Collection (OYC & OYCII) as well as engineering open yeast strains to facilitate protein secretion by incorporating accessory proteins. The primary focus will be on systems using Komagataella phaffii (Pichia pastoris) as a chassis. To support end-users we will develop open documentation with descriptions and protocols on how to work with our tools as well as foster international collaborations via the Reagent Collaboration Network , and distribution channels to promote innovation in protein engineering for climate solutions.


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The details of our budget items are described in our solution statement.

Project Timeline

We aim to complete the project by the end of November, 2024.

Nov 15, 2023

Project Start

Nov 29, 2024

Project Completion

Meet the Team

Scott Pownall, PhD
Scott Pownall, PhD
President & Cofounder (PhD, Genetics, UBC 1997)


Open Science Network Society
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Ian Caven
Ian Caven

Scott Pownall, PhD

Scott Pownall, President & co-founder of Open Science Network Society, has a lifelong passion and curiosity for the world around him and this drives his diverse interests. He has been working with DNA-based technologies in industry, academia, research institutes and community for over 35 years in Australia and Canada. He has engineered microbes, mice, mammalian cells and pigs and provides consulting services in the fields of genetics, bioinformatic, molecular, cellular, and synthetic biology. He participated in the first human genome jamboree at Celera before their first draft of the human genome was published whilst a Post-Doctoral Fellow in the Laboratory of Dr. Tak Mak at the, now defunct, Amgen Research Institute and the Ontario Cancer Institute. More recently, he is a contributor to the BioBricks Foundation's FreeGenes program and is the creator of the Open Yeast Collection. He is also a collaborator with the UK-based Open Bioeconomy Lab, the Reclone Network and serves actively on the 2023 iGEM Engineering Committee. He is currently working with a startup to massively improve electron flow in conductors.

Ian Caven

With decades of professional software development experience in image and video processing, Ian became interested in bio-informatics and synthetic biology six years ago. He has written programs for codon optimization of genes for yeast and bacteria, and contributed to the Open Yeast Collection and Protein Expression Toolkit. He has also written software for the Opentrons pipetting robot and designed 3D printed parts for laboratory use. He holds a Master of Applied Science degree from University of British Columbia in Electrical and Computer Engineering and a Bachelor of Applied Science degree from the department of Electrical Engineering at the University of Toronto.


Emily was formally trained in cellular and molecular Neuroscience and has worked in wet labs for 8 years in various technician and research roles. She transitioned to entrepreneurship 7 years ago, as she discovered her passion for turning ideas into reality. She finds excitement in helping early-stage organizations get off the ground, such as helping to co-found the Open Science Network Society along with Scott and others. Emily is passionate about health and longevity sciences and the impact the environment has on individuals. She is excited about the immense impact of this yeast platform to have real-world implications for the biomanufacturing of proteins.

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