Craig Venter

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American, decoder of the human genome.

J. Craig Venter, Ph.D., is regarded as one of the leading scientists of the 21st century for his invaluable contributions in genomic research, and is one of the most frequently cited scientists in various journals and magazines. He is founder and president of the J. Craig Venter Institute and the J. Craig Venter Science Foundation, for non-profit research and support organizations dedicated to human genomic research, the exploration of social and ethical issues in genomics, and the search for alternative energy solutions through microbial sources. In addition, Dr. Venter is the founder and chairman of The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR).

Dr. Venter began his formal education after a tour of duty as a Navy Corpsman, in Danang, Vietnam from 1967 to 1968. After earning a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and a Ph.D. in physiology and pharmacology, both from the University of California at San Diego and both in three years, he was appointed professor at the State University of New York at Buffalo and the Roswell Park Cancer Institute. In 1984, he moved to the National Institutes of Health campus where he developed expressed sequence tags or ESTs, a revolutionary new strategy for gene discovery. In 1992, he founded The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR). There, he and his team decoded the genome of the first free-living organism, the bacterium Haemophilus influenzae, using his new whole genome shotgun technique. TIGR has sequenced more than 50 genomes to date using Dr. Venter’s techniques.

In 1998, Dr. Venter founded Celera Genomics to sequence the human genome using the whole genome shotgun technique, new mathematical algorithms, and new automated DNA sequencing machines. The successful completion of this research culminated in the publication of the human genome in February 2001 in the journal “Science.” In addition to the human genome, Dr. Venter and his team at Celera have sequenced the fruit fly, mouse, and rat genomes.