Derek O’Flaherty is from Montreal (Canada), where he completed an Honours B.Sc. in Chemistry at Concordia University (Montreal, Canada) with a Minor in Multidisciplinary Sciences, and being a member of the Co-Operative Education program. He performed undergraduate research on the synthesis of cross-linked DNA oligonucleotides under the supervision of Professor Christopher Wilds. He then pursed a PhD in the Wilds lab at Concordia University, conducting research on the preparation DNA containing novel site-specific chemical modifications as mimics of biologically relevant DNA damage. These adducts were then investigated as substrates for the direct repair pathway and the polymerase lesion bypass mechanism. After completing the PhD in 2016, Derek joined Jack Szostak’s research group at Massachusetts General Hospital – Harvard University as an FRQNT (and later CIHR) Postdoctoral Fellow. There he developed strategies to improve the nonenzymatic replication of genetic polymers as it pertains to the origins of life and the assembly of a synthetic cell. In 2019, Derek joined Alnylam Pharmaceuticals Inc. working in the high-throughput synthesis group as a Scientist. In 2020, he became an Assistant Professor at the University of Guelph in the Chemistry Department, where he is focusing on developing nucleic acid biotechnology and assembling a synthetic cell.