Published September 27, 2012
J. Craig Venter, PhD, the pioneering biologist who led the first team to sequence the human genome, received a State University of New York honorary doctorate in science at a ceremony following the Sept. 20 grand opening of UB’s Clinical and Translational Research Center.
President Satish K. Tripathi called Venter—a former UB and Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center scientist—“one of the 21st century's most influential scientists and widely regarded as the world's foremost leader in the field of genetic research.”
Venter developed a revolutionary strategy for rapid gene discovery while working at the National Institutes of Health. He went on to found the Institute for Genomic Research where, in 1995, he and his team decoded the genome of the first free-living organism.
At Celera Genomics, which he founded in 1998, Venter sequenced the human genome using tools and techniques that he and his team developed. The successful completion of this research culminated with the February 2001 publication of the human genome in the journal Science.
During his remarks, Venter expressed honest admiration for UB’s newest research facility saying, “I'm actually jealous,” he said. “This is some of the most beautiful lab space I've seen.”
He also praised UB and Buffalo for committing to the creation of a life sciences economy. “I'm a strong believer that the future does rest in a bioeconomy.”
Venter gave an update on genomics, describing the massive amounts of digital information that the research has produced and the challenge caused by the “digitizing of biology.”
Looking to the future, he said that personalized medicine based on a patient's genetic information “will be a standard part of medicine within a few years.”
Venter is founder and president of the J. Craig Venter Institute, a not-for-profit, research and support organization dedicated to human, microbial, plant and environmental genomic research, the exploration of social and ethical issues in genomics, and alternative energy solutions through genomics.
He and his team continue to blaze new trails in genomics research and have published numerous important papers covering such areas as the first complete diploid human genome, environmental genomics and synthetic genomics.
He is also founder and chief executive officer of Synthetic Genomics, a privately held company commercializing genomic advances.