Roberto Crea, Making the Most Out of Olive Waste
(Photo : Roberto Crea)

The current era is all about reducing, reusing, and recycling. The increasing and alarming global warming situation has forced people to think about their activities from a broader perspective. Every single thing that can impact the environment either positively or negatively is being re-thought and rewired. In these crucial times, scientists and related professionals in the field face immense pressure to figure out effective strategies to lessen waste and make the most out of it. One scientist who has come up with an extraordinary idea to reuse the agricultural waste in a way that can benefit humans is Dr. Roberto Crea.

Roberto Crea is a renowned face in the world of biotechnology as he is popularly known as one of the "fathers of human (or synthetic) insulin." He was among the scientific co-founders of Genentech in 1978 and responsible for the synthesis of human insulin's genes. His early discoveries in synthetic DNA made valuable contributions to its invention. Crea's meticulous and innovative services in the field of biotechnology have been recognized by many reputable platforms such as the National Italian American Foundation (NIAF), the Lions International Club in Reggio in Italy, Academia Fiord of Rhegium,  and many more. In addition to being a scientist with numerous awards and titles under his belt, Crea has expanded his vast portfolio as an entrepreneur too. Having founded companies such as Creative BioMolecules (Curis), Bioren, Inc., Creagen Inc., and many more, Roberto is currently leading Oliphenol, LLC and ProtElix, Inc., and continues to be an asset to the field.

Thinking Out of the Box

A good observer has the ability to perceive things differently than others do, and professionals like scientists and inventors fall into this category. And this leads to the creation of Roberto Crea's Oliphenol, LLC in 2018.  This Italian Ph.D. holder in biological chemistry from the University of Pavia started researching a rare polyphenol called "hydroxytyrosol" ten years before starting his venture.

Crea stumbled upon the idea of using hydroxytyrosol polyphenol while he was traveling to Italy. There he came across a machine pitting olives before pressing them. The scientist got hold of a purer oil that was clean from the toxic and bitter remains from the pits. He closely studied the oil for months and concluded that the olives' juice is rich in natural antioxidants, which, if used correctly, would be beneficial for the human body. This discovery kickstarted the research on hydroxytyrosol and its wide range of benefits to the human body. At the same time, others were looking for ways to isolate this molecule in the oil, which was an expensive and tedious process with a low recovery rate. Roberto and his team realized that majority of the polyphenols were being thrown away in the wastewater stream. He made the most out of this prized opportunity. He discovered a new process to harvest them in industrial quantities and study them for their unique anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial activities.

Crea joined hands with fellow Italian experts and several other notable scientists worldwide to valorize and recover agricultural waste products. Their primary focus is discovering the various mechanisms of biological activity and potential areas of application.  The team then began working on the idea of launching this dietary supplement in the American markets. The supplement, called Olivenol, is a concentrate of antioxidants that are excellent in preventing arteriosclerosis and aging. According to the studies and results, a single dietary supplement tablet would be equivalent to consuming a half-liter of oil and contains a proportionate amount of antioxidants.

The idea came to life in 2019 under the Oliphenol company. This is a nutraceutical company that is dedicated to the extraction of natural bioactive compounds. Dr. Crea has created other novel techniques of co-extracting technology from agricultural waste, medicinal plants, and fruits.

The Early Life of Crea - An Asset to Biotechnology

Roberto Crea was born on July 1, 1948, in Palmi.  After graduating, he moved to the Netherlands for his specialization. There he studied at the University of Leiden. Here he got involved in the process of discovering new ways to synthesize DNA.  As he was one of the pioneers in this discovery, Crea was selected by Genentech to work with the original Gene synthesis team. in 1977, Crea moved to City of Hope Medical School, located in Duarte in California, and in 1978 became the Director of Research at Genentech in South San Francisco.

In addition to this stellar discovery, Crea also used his expertise to discover Ziconotide. As the director of Neurex, in 2006, he led the research team and found out that the drug is more powerful and effective than morphine, and it has zero side effects.

Other than being a scientist, he has worked and started a list of biotechnical companies that actively contributed to the betterment of human health. The companies that were created under his surveillance were several in the U.S. and in Italy. Crea's contributions to science and human health are treasured worldwide. This 73-year-old individual is still working towards making valuable additions to the industry. Recently, his Italian colleagues have appointed Roberto as President and R&D Director of a brand new Research Center in Calabria, Roberto's place of birth, with the prestigious name of Renato Dulbecco Institute. Prof. Dulbecco, an Italian American scientist who immigrated to the United States in 1948, was awarded Nobel Price in 1975 for his contribution to Physiology or Medicine.

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