NobleReach Foundation

Ryan Mehl – Oregon State University

Unleashing the potential of Genetic Code Expansion

*NSF-funded, Biotechnology

Initiative Description

The Ryan Mehl lab at Oregon State University (OSU) is a leading academic group in the field of genetic code expansion (GCE). GCE studies the controlled incorporation of non-canonical amino acids into proteins, as a platform for subsequent engineering of protein properties. This work falls into the rapidly expanding domain of click chemistry and biorthogonal chemistry, work that garnered the 2022 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Applications include linking drugs to antibodies, engineering proteins as clinical biomarkers, engineering proteins to have tags as powerful tools for biomedical research, engineering stability in biologics, and manufacturing complex biopolymers.

The Mehl lab has been a major locus of investment by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and industrial partners.  A new center, GCE4All, is administered by the lab, offering national and international education and training programs in GCE and hosting conferences. As such, the group is very aware of the state-of the-art in this space and have been able to push the envelope, particularly with respect to tetrazine ligation chemical biology.  Their platform has several advantages, including site-specific incorporation, fast kinetics, quantitative reaction chemistry, compatibility with all standard buffers, efficient expression in both prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells, and scalability.

Many capabilities developed by the lab across the application spectrum have commercial potential as evidenced by the large number of companies currently seeking to collaborate with the Mehl lab.

NSF is partnered with NobleReach to speed biotechnology development, translation, and commercialization for NSF-funded investigators. See here for a link to the press release. NobleReach aids in the identification of experts to facilitate commercialization.

Job Description

The Mehl lab is seeking a business lead to assess, drive, and establish the strategy for commercialization efforts of their technology and its corresponding applications. This effort will span a period of 12 months with a non-dilutive grant of approximately $225k.

Core Areas of Accountability:

  • Prioritize target markets (including through voice-of-customer work)
  • Define the intellectual property landscape and associated strategy
  • Define an optimal business model and plan
  • Crystallize new company formation if appropriate
  • Develop strategic partnering and next-stage financing plans and collateral as appropriate

Such activity should as a matter of course help Dr. Mehl and OSU’s tech transfer and innovation group integrate thinking about intellectual property and licensing strategy, help frame and direct current discussions with corporate partners, and define the role of any associated start-up(s).


  • Experience or the ability to assemble a team spanning the domains of drug development, biology and biotech research tools and services, and synthetic biology, with a preference for expertise in chemical biology, click chemistry, probes/tags/fluorophores, bioconjugation/linkers, genetic code expansion, antibody-drug conjugates.
  • Background in market research and business development
  • History of translating research to solutions through consultative selling, development and sales of high value technical solutions, technology development, and technical services in biotech research, tools, and product development.
  • Experience leading the raising venture capital rounds either from the sell-side or buy-side.

This is a consulting role. Location can be remote, if candidates are open to appropriate regular travel to meet with the science and innovation team in Oregon. There may be future opportunities to join the team in a full-time capacity as an organization leader in the future.

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