Da Jing: a new method for discovering ‘gifted’ microbes

Published Jun 19, 2024

Da Jing

Da Jing is one of Wellington UniVentures newest researchers to join the KiwiNet Emerging Innovator programme. Da’s work focuses on the intersection of sequencing, synthetic biology and natural product discovery.

As part of his PhD at Victoria University’s School of Biological Sciences, Da is developing a novel technique to identify ‘gifted microbes’ - small, naturally occurring organisms that produce compounds that may be useful to humans, especially in medicine and agriculture.

“Approaches to discovering these compounds were developed over a century ago, and are capable of accessing only 1% of the earth’s microbial diversity,” explains Da.

As part of Jeremy Owen’s lab group, Da is developing new, low-cost methods that could unlock the remaining 99% of microbial diversity – potentially a game changer in the fields of drug discovery.

Da is excited to join the Emerging Innovator programme to learn how commercialisation can help him bring his innovative methods to the world.

“It’s a great chance to learn from others and get support to turn our research ideas into real-world solutions. I’m looking forward to working with everyone and seeing what we can achieve together,” says Da.

Nominator Sam Wojcik says that, despite being in the early stages of his academic journey, Da demonstrates a remarkable ambition to contribute to the deep-tech start-up environment.

“I first met Da at a networking event when he was still a master’s student. Even then, I was struck by his curiosity and go-getter mentality. He was deeply interested in ensuring his research had an impact and wanted to know more about commercialisation as a vehicle to reach that goal.”

Since then, Sam has seen Da’s interest in commercialisation grow alongside his technical acumen.

On top of doing his PhD, Da is also an intern with the Angel Association, a group of early-stage investors, Chief Operating Officer for student networking group Chiasma Wellington, and on the committee of Wellington Momentum investment committee.

“Da is a natural entrepreneur and this programme will give him a leg-up on his journey to launching a biotech start-up – which I have no doubt he’ll achieve.”

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Sam Wojcik

Senior Commercialisation Manager

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