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George Church with a molecular model at TED (Technology Entertainment and Design conferences), 2010.

George Church

Born on August 28, 1954. He is an American molecular geneticist. He is currently Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School and Director of the Center for Computational Genetics. With degrees from Duke University in Chemistry and Zoology, he co-authored research on 3D-software & RNA structure with Sung-Hou Kim. His PhD from Harvard in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology with Wally Gilbert included the first direct genomic sequencing method in 1984; initiating the Human Genome Project then as a Research Scientist at newly-formed Biogen Inc. and a Monsanto Life Sciences Research Fellow at UCSF with Gail Martin. He invented the broadly-applied concepts of molecular multiplexing and tags, homologous recombination methods, and array DNA synthesizers. Technology transfer of automated sequencing & software to Genome Therapeutics Corp. resulted in the first commercial genome sequence (the human pathogen, H. pylori, 1994). This multiplex solid-phase sequencing evolved into polonies (1999), ABI-SOLiD (2005) & open-source Polonator.org (2007) and Personal Genomes.org.

He has served in advisory roles for 12 journals (including Nature Molecular Systems Biology), 5 granting agencies and 24 biotech companies (e.g. 23andme & recently founding Codon Devices, Knome and LS9). Current research focuses on integrating biosystems-modeling with Personal Genomics & synthetic biology.

Quotes by George Church:

I emailed Mr. Church to ask him how long he has been vegan and why he follows the vegan lifestyle. He sent me the following answer:
"I've been vegan off-and-on since 1974 when I was inspired by participating in an MIT nutritional study, and quite strictly since 2004. My four reasons have been: medical (cholesterol in fish & dairy), energy conservation (up to 20-fold impact), cruelty ("organic" animals are deprived of medicines that humans use), and risks of spreading pathogens (not just the flu). Shoppers, chefs and diners (especially for mixed foods) will increasingly employ cell phones to scan barcodes (or scan foods directly) to get information on lipid content, environmental impact, and personalization (allergies, salt, lactose intolerance, celiac, religious and political preferences, etc.). Entrepreneurs will seize the opportunity to (ironically) extend "green chemistry" ideas to foods. Veganism is an issue for which personal and global love of life, health and wealth align. It's a pity to lose parts of our humanity and planet just due to a lack of recipes."

Profile information from his biographical sketch (Training) on the Harvard website.

Image of George Church by Steve Jurvetson: Creative Commons License.
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