J. Craig Venter, Ph.D., is regarded as one of the leading scientists of the 21st century for his numerous contributions to genomic research. In addition to his past key positions, he is founder, current chairman, and CEO of the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI), a not-for-profit, research organization dedicated to human, microbial, plant, synthetic, and environmental genomic research, and the exploration of social and ethical issues in genomics.
Dr. Venter, who is also co-founder, executive chairman, and co-chief scientist of Synthetic Genomics (SGI) and co-founder, executive chairman, and CEO of Human Longevity, spoke to GEN.
GEN: Dr. Venter, you have been on the frontlines of genomics, synthetic genomics, and synthetic biology. Please talk about your research in synthetic biology and synthetic genomics?
Dr. Venter: JCVI’s synthetic biology program started in 1995, when my team sequenced the first genome. That same year we sequenced a second genome, the smallest one known (Mycloplasma genitalium) in collaboration with Clyde Hutchinson, who was then at the University of North Carolina. That led Clyde and I, along with our colleague Hamilton Smith, M.D., to start discussing the concept of comparative genomics and wondering what the most primitive and simplest genome that could exist would be.