Colossal Biosciences announced Tuesday that it has hired a key executive, Ancient DNA Expert Beth Shapiro, as its Chief Science Officer.

Shapiro’s joining Colossal full-time will help the company meet its de-extinction and species preservation goals.

Shapiro, an internationally renowned evolutionary molecular biologist, is a leader in paleogenomics and ancient DNA and will oversee the continued expansion of the company’s de-extinction and conservation science teams. She is also a MacArthur “Genius Grant” Award winner and National Geographic Explorer.

“Our efforts to apply our de-extinction technologies to help save critically endangered species is just as important to us as bringing back the iconic mammoth, thylacine, and dodo,” said Ben Lamm, Co-Founder and CEO of Colossal.

Lamm founded Colossal Biosciences in 2021 with George Church, a Harvard geneticist and pioneer in personal genomics and synthetic biology. Today, Colossal has 128 employees, more than 30 funded postdocs in major academic labs, and 60 advisory board members. The company is based in Dallas but has offices in Austin, Boston, Santa Cruz, California, and Melbourne, Australia.

Shapiro previously served as Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and lead of the Paleogenomics Lab at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Lamm said she will continue to work out of Santa Cruz and travel to Colossal’s other labs and offices as needed.

“Beth and I have developed an incredible relationship over the past few years. I’m extremely impressed by her intellect, drive, and the rigor of her scientific research,” Lamm said in a news release. “I know she will continue to push our scientific research programs further and is the best fit for the role. It’s a dream to work so closely with Beth, and I know our species leads feel the same.”

“I’ve been an advisor to Colossal since just after the company launched and am excited now to step in full-time to support the team’s groundbreaking work,” Shapiro said in a news release. “It’s thrilling to see the research we’ve been doing in the labs not only seeing the light of day but being applied to science that will positively impact the planet.”

As an advisor to Colossal for the past two years, Shapiro helped launch the company’s Dodo and Avian Genomics Group. She also developed, along with Colossal team members, the international scientific advisory board. And she served as the lead paleogeneticist. In that role, she secured samples and generated DNA data that Colossal uses as part of all species groups.

“I have worked with Beth for over 20 years and am continually impressed by her contributions to the field of paleogenetics. I cannot be more excited about Beth joining Colossal, as this will not only help accelerate Colossal’s de-extinction efforts but will also provide an even more direct link between my ancient mammoth research and Eriona’s and George’s teams. I look forward to continuing our collaboration with Colossal to refine our target list of which genes make mammoths unique compared to other elephant lineages,” Dalen,  Professor of Evolutionary Genetics at the Swedish Museum of Natural History, one of the research leaders at the Center for Palaeogenetics in Stockholm, and leading Woolly Mammoth expert, said in a news release.