Michael Lassner

Chief Scientific Officer

Dr. Lassner has been engaged in agricultural biotechnology since the early 1980s. He has a successful track record in both small startup and large multinational companies, managing productive organizations ranging in size from 10 to 750 researchers. He is charged with establishing Amfora’s overall scientific strategy and direction, managing external collaborations and agreements with research service providers, and overseeing the product pipeline.  

He is an inventor on more than 50 issued U.S. patents in addition to multiple independent families of pending applications. From 1989 to 1999, he led projects successful in altering and improving canola oil quality at Calgene, one of the earliest plant biotechnology companies. At Monsanto, following its acquisition of Calgene, he led a program to develop genomic technologies for the improvement of grain quality.

In 1999, Dr. Lassner joined Maxygen to develop an agriculture business exploiting its DNA shuffling platform. As Vice President of Research, he built and managed a 50-person research group, including major collaborations with Syngenta and DuPont. He was the science leg of a three-person leadership team that spun out Verdia, formed a biotechnology joint venture with Delta and Pineland (the world’s largest cotton seed company at that time), and sold Verdia to DuPont Pioneer (then Pioneer Hi-Bred International).

He went on to play different roles in leading DuPont Pioneer biotechnology. From 2006-2014, as Vice President of Trait Discovery, he led its research efforts for traits including insect control, herbicide tolerance, grain quality improvement, drought tolerance and yield improvement.  His responsibilities also included periods managing crop transformation, managing a large DNA marker lab, and managing core analytic labs.  He leadership demonstrated passion for developing new enabling technologies including improvement to plant transformation, modernizing vector construction and gene synthesis, precise targeting of transgene integration and developing genome-editing capabilities.

His strategic direction upgrading trait discovery and development was a driving force in tripling the size of the DuPont Agricultural Biotechnology organization. He was vital in setting up international research programs including a joint venture in China and a large discovery program in India.​

He earned a B.S. in Plant Science (1981) and a Ph.D. in Genetics (1987) from the University of California, Davis.