J. Craig Venter, Ph.D., is regarded as one of the leading scientists of the 21st century for his numerous contributions to genomic research. He is founder and president of the J. Craig Venter Institute, a not-for-profit dedicated to genomic research, the exploration of related social and ethical issues, and the creation of alternative energy solutions through genomics. In 1984, at the National Institutes of Health, Venter developed Expressed Sequence Tags (ESTs), a revolutionary new strategy for rapid gene discovery. In 1992 he founded The Institute for Genomic Research. There he and his team decoded the genome of the first free-living organism and have since sequenced hundreds of genomes using his techniques and tools. Venter’s team has even built the genome of a bacterium from scratch and incorporated it into a cell thereby making what they call the world’s first synthetic life form. This achievement heralds the dawn of a new era in which new life could be made to potentially benefit humanity.
THOMAS GOETZ is the executive editor of Wired magazine and author of The Decision Tree: Taking Control of Your Health in the New Era of Personalized Medicine. A journalist for more than 15 years, Goetz has reported on media and business for the Village Voice, the Wall Street Journal, and The Industry Standard. He holds a Master of Public Health degree from the University of California, Berkeley.