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Ginkgo Bioworks adds CEO of Vertex to its board of directors

Vertex Pharmaceuticals CEO Reshma Kewalramani and Ginkgo Bioworks CEO Jason Kelly.Courtesy of Vertex | Bloomberg

The chief executive of Vertex Pharmaceuticals, one of the largest biotech employers in Massachusetts, plans to join the board of directors at Ginkgo Bioworks, a prominent life-sciences startup preparing to go public.

Ginkgo said on Tuesday that Reshma Kewalramani would join its board once it merges with Soaring Eagle Acquisition Corp., a special purpose acquisition company.

“I am excited to join Ginkgo’s board of directors at such a pivotal time,” said Kewalramani, in a press release. “I am particularly excited by the company’s broad platform, which holds the potential to meaningfully transform multiple fields from agriculture to energy to life sciences.”


Boston-based Ginkgo is going public with a $15 billion valuation on the premise that its cell programming capabilities — changing and processing DNA like computer code — could make it akin to an “App Store” for other companies looking to tweak cells to make new products.

Jason Kelly, Ginkgo’s chief executive, said Kewalramani would help boost Ginkgo’s credibility within the pharmaceutical industry, where it aims to partner with companies on cell programming projects. Ginkgo already works with big biotechs in the area including Moderna and Biogen.

As part of the SPAC merger, Ginkgo also tapped Arie Belldegrun, a cell- and gene-therapy veteran and founder of Kite Pharma and Allogene Therapeutics, as an investor and board member.

Anissa Gardizy can be reached at anissa.gardizy@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @anissagardizy8 and on Instagram @anissagardizy.journalism.