About Us

OUR STORY

Chemical manufacturing is undergoing a period of transition, from an era focused on petrochemical-derived chemical synthesis and plant extraction to one which leverages the power of biotechnology and biomanufacturing. Manus Bio was founded in 2011 with the mission of developing an economical and sustainable biomanufacturing platform, particularly for accessing rare and complex natural ingredients.

The concept behind Manus Bio emerged when a group of biochemical engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) recognized a glaring gap which exists in the sustainable sourcing of many chemicals and ingredients used in our daily lives, from clothing and cosmetics to our medicines and food. Despite hundreds of years of innovation and progress in product development, ingredients continue to be sourced primarily from three main activities – mining, plant cultivation, and animal husbandry – none of which offer sustainable or environmentally-responsible solutions to the issue of chemical procurement. Fortunately, this realization came at a time of unprecedented scientific advances in biology, with many of the breakthroughs occurring in Cambridge, MA itself. Together, the rapid commoditization of genome sequencing and gene synthesis and the growing understanding of cellular function offered by systems biology made the otherwise daunting task of engineering biology much more tractable.

This was exactly the type of work pioneered in the laboratory of Dr. Greg Stephanopoulos, William H. Dow Professor of Chemical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and founding father of the field of metabolic engineering, whose central tenets provide the framework by which to engineer cellular systems for a variety of novel applications. There, Dr. Aji Parayil (Chief Executive Officer, Manus Bio), an organic chemist turned bioengineer, sought to unlock the potential of microorganisms to produce complex natural products normally found in small quantities in plants and higher organisms. “Plants are the most amazing chemists,” thought Dr. Parayil. “They produce hundreds of thousands of compounds in a very energy and resource efficient way with applications which impact almost every aspect of our lives. How do we enable economical and easy access to these chemicals?”

By taking a multi-disciplinary approach which combined metabolic engineering, protein engineering, and traditional chemistry principles, Dr. Parayil quickly achieved successes which had eluded the rest of the scientific community. Shortly thereafter, he tapped former MIT labmate Dr. Christine Santos (Chief Technology Officer, Manus Bio) and several other MIT classmates, to build a talented team of scientists and engineers and translate these early findings into a robust engineering platform which now serves as Manus Bio’s core technology.

Today, Manus Bio has deployed a mature end-to-end commercial platform for the discovery and economical biomanufacturing of a variety of complex natural products, thus truly making nature more accessible, affordable and sustainable.

"Plants are the most amazing chemists"

 

Ajikumar Parayil

CO-FOUNDER & CEO

LEADERSHIP TEAM

DR. AJIKUMAR PARAYIL
Founder, Chief Executive Officer

Ajikumar (Aji) is an entrepreneur with more than 15 years of experience in technological innovation and commercialization. He invented Manus Bio’s core technology platform at MIT and co-founded Manus Bio in 2011. Aji has more than 40 U.S. & international patents issued or filed in the area of biotechnology. Aji obtained his PhD from Mahatma Gandhi University in India and carried out his postdoctoral research through the Singapore-MIT Alliance in Singapore and at MIT.

DR. CHRISTINE SANTOS
Chief Technology Officer

Christine has over 15 years of experience in biotechnology and metabolic engineering and has published her work in several elite journals, including Science, Nature, and PNAS. Prior to joining Manus Bio, Christine served as an early Senior Scientist at Bio Architecture Lab where she led efforts in developing both bacterial and yeast platforms for macroalgae utilization. Christine obtained her BS and MS in Chemical Engineering from Stanford and her PhD in Chemical Engineering from MIT.

JEFF ANDERSON
Chief Operating Officer

Jeff has over 15 years of experience in business development in Asia, North America and Europe. Prior to joining Manus Bio, Jeff worked in relationship management roles for the AP Moller Maersk Group. Jeff earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern California and an MBA from MIT’s Sloan School of Management.

PAUL BONI
Chief Financial Officer

Paul has over 25 years of experience in investing and business analysis. Prior to joining Manus Bio, Paul was head of Investor Development and Strategy at ContraFect Corporation, ran the strategic research division of Grail Research/Integreon, and worked as an investment analyst covering biotechnology investments in sell-side and buy-side roles. Paul obtained a BS in Biology from Harvard University.

WEI HUANG
Chief Manufacturing Officer

Wei has over 25 years of experience in the area of process development, scale-up, manufacturing, facility design, and operations. Prior to joining Manus Bio, Wei served as the Vice President of Process Development and Engineering at REG Life Sciences (formerly LS9). Prior to that, Wei was a Director at Fluor Corporation. Wei obtained a BS in Chemical Engineering from the East China University of Technology and an MS in Chemical Engineering from the University of Maryland.

DR. RYAN PHILLIPE
Director of Innovation

Ryan has more than 15 years of experience in plant gene discovery, biochemistry, and biotechnology and has 11 patents and journal publications including multiple Science and Nature papers. He worked as an NSERC and HHMI Research Fellow at The Salk Institute for Biological Studies and earned a Ph.D. in plant biochemistry and a B.Sc. in genetics from the University of British Columbia.

JOIN OUR TEAM


CAREERS AT MANUS BIO