Identified as one of the “10 big ideas” in 2016 by the National Science Foundation, convergence is a means of solving vexing problems focusing on societal needs, integrating different technologies into a single system — and Cafer Ozdemir is ideally suited to direct Kernal’s programs in that regard. Cafer was working on post-doctoral research focused on a portion of the mRNA, which he had come to realize was modular when Burak ask him to join as a co-founder. Since mRNA is basically the messenger program of DNA, you could take it out and program it to produce the specific kind of therapeutic protein. This idea fascinated him — as was partnering with Yusuf — his old friend and rival. Cafer and Yusuf first met as elite science high school students at the 10th National Biology Olympiad in Turkey, when they competed against each other to represent Turkey in the International Biology Olympiad the following year. (They both won golds in the Nationals and silvers in the Internationals.) Obviously Cafer said yes. He earned his PhD at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at the department of Molecular Genetics, where he studied the SREBP pathway, investigating tissue-specific expression and function of an enzyme in a mouse model. (SREBP — sterol regulatory element binding protein — pathway plays an essential role in both metabolic diseases and tumor development.) He received his postdoctoral training at Harvard Medical School. He then went on to become a biochemistry instructor at MIT’s Minority Introduction to Engineering and Science Program. He has 11 published papers in scientific journals and holds two patents.