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Workshop 5

“Anthropogenic Climate Destabilization: A Worst-case Scenario”
Participant Biography

September 12–14, 2008 | Bellevue, Washington

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J. Craig Venter

Dr. J. Craig Venter is a world-renowned genome research pioneer. He is currently Chairman and President of J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI), Rockville, MD, a not-for-profit research institute dedicated to the advancement of the science of genomics; the understanding of its implications for society; and communication of those results to the scientific community, the public, and policymakers. Venter came to prominence in scientific circles in 1991 for his novel technique for rapid gene discovery and in 1995 for the first sequencing in history of a genome of a living species, the bacteria Haemophilus influenzae. Using his pioneering methods he and his team rapidly sequenced and analyzed numerous important microbial and plant genomes. In February 2001 he and his team at Celera Genomics published the first sequence and analysis of the human genome. Venter went on to investigate genomes found in the atmosphere and the oceans, and in 2006 JCVI published findings from ocean sampling that uncovered over six million new genes and thousands of new protein families from organisms in seawater. In 2007 Venter’s own complete individual genome was sequenced and published in the first-ever publication of a genome sequence of an individual, covering both chromosome pairs. At present, JCVI continues pioneering work toward the creation of a fully synthetic organism. His research has laid the groundwork for individualized medicine and health care, which will greatly impact the long-term future of humanity.

Venter’s Ph.D. in physiology and pharmacology is from the University of California, San Diego. He was a Professor at State University of New York at Buffalo before joining the National Institutes of Health. The J. Craig Venter Institute was founded in 2006 by consolidating four institutes founded by Venter: The Center for the Advancement of Genomics, The Institute for Genomic Research, J. Craig Venter Science Foundation, and Institute for Biological Energy Alternatives. In 2007 and 2008, Time magazine named him one of the world’s 100 most influential people. He is presently a Visiting Scholar in Harvard University’s Origins of Life Initiative and is at the forefront of research in applying genomics to energy. He is the recipient of the 2008 Kistler Prize, given annually by Foundation For the Future to recognize original work investigating the implications of genetics for human society.