Dan Close obtained his doctorate from the Genome Science and Technology program at the University of Tennessee. His graduate work developed a new pre-clinical biomedical imaging technology that established autonomous bioluminescent production in human and animal cells via the coordinated expression of a synthetic luciferase/luciferin genetic pathway. This work relied heavily on the synthetic modification of bacterial genes and regulatory architecture for efficient expression in human cells and input from researchers across the optical imaging community. This technology it was commercialized by 490 BioTech, Inc., a Knoxville, Tennessee based company, in 2011. Upon completion of his graduate work, Dr. Close took a position as a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Joint Institute for Biological Sciences, a partnership between The University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, where he began applying his molecular and synthetic biology engineering experience towards establishing biofuel production pathways in industrially relevant microorganisms. In 2012 Dr. Close was selected as a Eugene P. Wigner Fellow by the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Leveraging his previous experience developing synthetic genetic pathways, Dr. Close’s research at Oak Ridge National Laboratory centered on the development of industrially relevant organisms capable of producing hydrocarbon biofuels to establish new models for industrial applications. Following completion of his Eugene P. Wigner Fellowship appointment, Dr. Close continued his work as a Research Staff Scientist in the Biosciences Division. Dr. Close currently serves as the chief scientific officer for 490 BioTech, the company founded on the autobioluminescent technology he developed during his graduate work. His research with 490 BioTech focuses on the development of commercial research tools that leverage continuous and/or autonomous bioluminescent output to enable improved in vitro and in vivo cellular imaging. In light of his crosscutting background, Dr. Close places an emphasis on educating students in the differences between academic, government, and commercial scientific career paths so they can select the most appropriate fit for applying their talents.
Ph.D. University of Tennessee – Genome Science & Technology