Until now, much of the medicines we use to treat dire illnesses have been derived from plants. But that means we are dependent on natural conditions out of our control, such as drought, pollination, floods, and climate, for crucial building blocks. One result is high cost and drug shortages. Stanford Bioengineer Christina Smolke says the time has come to change all that, so her lab is developing new ways to create the drugs we need, including using the yeast from beer to develop new painkillers. “Wouldn’t it be better if we could just make our own medicines?” she asks.