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Craig Venter

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J. Craig Venter (born John Craig Venter October 14, 1946, Salt Lake City, Utah) is an American biologist, and businessman.[1] Venter founded The Institute for Genomic Research and was instrumental in mapping the human genome.[2] He was listed on Time Magazine's 2007 and 2008 Time 100 list of the most influential people in the world.

Early lifeEdit

Venter is an ex-surfer and a Vietnam war veteran. According to Time Magazine, it was not always evident that he would become a transformative figure, particularly when he was a boy; according to his biography, A Life Decoded, he was said to be never a terribly engaged student, having Cs and Ds in his eighth grade report cards.[3]

He enlisted in the United States Navy and served a tour of duty during the Vietnam War. While in Vietnam, he attempted to commit suicide by swimming out to sea, but changed his mind more than a mile out.[4][5]

Venter began his academic career at a community college, College of San Mateo in California. He received his bachelor's degree in biochemistry in 1972, and his Ph.D. in physiology and pharmacology in 1975 — both from the University of California, San Diego. In San Diego, he married former Ph.D. candidate, Barbara Rae.[6][7] After working as a professor at the State University of New York at Buffalo, he joined the National Institutes of Health in 1984. In Buffalo, he divorced Dr. Rae-Venter and married his student, Claire M. Fraser,[7] and remained married to her until 2005.[8]


While at NIH, Venter learned of a technique for rapidly identifying all of the mRNAs present in a cell, and began to use it to identify human brain genes. The short cDNA sequence fragments discovered by this method are called expressed sequence tags, or ESTs, a name coined by Anthony Kerlavage at The Institute for Genomic Research. Venter controversially filed patents on several of these gene fragments. The NIH later withdrew the patent applications after public outcry, and later court cases declared that ESTs were not directly patentable.[9][10]

Human Genome ProjectEdit

He is the former president and founder of Celera Genomics, which became famous for running a parallel version of the Human Genome Project of its own for commercial purposes, using shotgun sequencing technology in 1999. The method had been proposed for human genome sequencing [11], but most geneticists felt it would not be accurate enough for a genome as complicated as the human [12]. The aim of the Celera project was to create a database of genomic data that users could subscribe to for a fee. This proved very unpopular in the genetics community and spurred several groups to redouble their efforts to produce the full sequence and release it as open access. At the same time, the HGP consortium applied political pressure to appropriate the shotgun technology[citation needed] and the collected data from Venter's company. There were also concerns that Venter might shatter what was supposed to be an "international" face on a landmark event in history[citation needed]. DNA from five individuals was used by Celera to generate the sequence of the human genome; one of the five people used in this project was Venter. Celera and the Human Genome Project published rival announcements of success in 2001[13][14]. There was some evidence that shotgun sequencing had in fact proved less accurate than the clone-by-clone method chosen by the Human Genome Project[15]. After his inability to collect royalties for the Human Genome, Venter was fired by Celera in early 2002.[16] Venter resisted efforts by the company board to change the strategic direction of the company.

Despite their differing motivations, Venter and rival scientist Francis Collins of the National Institute of Health jointly made the announcement of the mapping of the human genome in 2000, along with US President Bill Clinton.[17] Venter and Collins thus shared an award for "Biography of the Year" from A&E Network.[18]

Current workEdit

Venter acquired The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR) in 1992. He is currently the president of the J. Craig Venter Institute, created and funded by TIGR's board (which Venter chairs). In June 2005, he co-founded Synthetic Genomics, a firm dedicated to using modified microorganisms to produce ethanol and hydrogen as alternative fuels. He used his sloop, Sorcerer II, in the Global Ocean Sampling Expedition to help assess genetic diversity in marine microbial communities.[19]

Media coverageEdit

Venter has been the subject of articles in several magazines, notably Wired,[20] The Economist,[21] Australian science magazine Cosmos,[22][23] and Atlantic Monthly.[24] Additionally, he was featured on The Colbert Report on both February 27, 2007, and October 30, 2007.

Venter appeared in the "Evolution" episode of the documentary television series Understanding.

On May 16, 2004 Venter gave the commencement speech at Boston University. [25]

On May 10, 2007, Venter was awarded an honorary doctorate from Arizona State University.[26] He was on the 2007 Time 100 most influential people in the world list made by Time magazine.

On September 4, 2007, a team led by Venter published the first complete (six-billion-letter) genome of an individual human — Venter's own DNA sequence.[27]

On BBC News on October 22, 2007, when asked about his religious view he replied that he thought that a true scientist could not believe in supernatural explanations.

On December 4, 2007, Venter gave the Dimbleby lecture for the BBC in London. He outlined his current work and future developments in genetics.

In February 2008, he gave a speech about his current work at the TED conference. The video can be seen online and downloaded.[28]

Dr. Venter was featured in Time Magazine's "The Top 10 Everything of 2008" article. Number three in 2008's Top 10 Scientific Discoveries was a piece outlining his work stitching together the 582,000 base pairs necessary to invent the genetic information for a whole new bacterium.[29]

Individual human genome sequencedEdit

On September 4, 2007, a team led by Sam Levy published the first complete (six-billion-letter) genome of an individual human — Venter's own DNA sequence.[27] Some of the sequences in Venter's genome are associated with wet earwax,[30] increased risk of antisocial behavior, Alzheimer's and cardiovascular diseases.[31] This publication was especially interesting since it contained a diploid instead of a haploid genome and shows promise for personalized medicine via genotyping.

The Human Reference (HuRef) Genome Browser is a Web application ( for the navigation and analysis of Venter's recently published genome.

The HuRef database consists of approximately 32 million DNA reads sequenced using Sanger methods, assembled into 4,528 scaffolds and 4.1 million DNA variations identified by genome analysis. These variants include Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs), block substitutions, short and large indels, structural variants like insertion, deletions, inversions and copy number changes.

The browser enables scientists to navigate the HuRef genome assembly and sequence variations, and to compare it with the NCBI human build 36 assembly in the context of the NCBI and Ensembl annotations. The browser provides a comparative view between NCBI and HuRef consensus sequences, the sequence multi-alignment of the HuRef assembly, Ensembl and dbSNP annotations, HuRef variants, and the underlying variant evidence and functional analysis. The interface also represents the haplotype blocks from which diploid genome sequence can be inferred and the relation of variants to gene annotations. The display of variants and gene annotations are linked to external public resources including dbSNP, Ensembl , Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man (OMIM) and Gene Ontology (GO).

Users can search the HuRef genome using HUGO gene names, Ensembl and dbSNP identifiers, HuRef contig or scaffold locations, or NCBI chromosome locations. Users can then easily and quickly browse any genomic region via the simple and intuitive pan and zoom controls; furthermore relevant data in specific loci can be exported for further analysis.

Mycoplasma laboratoriumEdit

Venter is seeking to patent the first life-form created by humanity, possibly to be named Mycoplasma laboratorium.[32] There is speculation that this line of research could lead to producing bacteria that have been engineered to perform specific reactions, e.g. produce fuels, make medicines, combat global warming, etc.[33]

New Scientist InterviewEdit

In a recent interview with New Scientist when asked "Assuming you can make synthetic bacteria, what will you do with them?", Venter replied

Template:Bquote Furthermore it suggests that one of the main purposes for creating synthetic bacteria would be to reduce the dependence on fossil fuels.[34]

Further readingEdit


  1. Shreeve, Jamie (2005-10-31). "The Blueprint Of Life". Retrieved on 6 December 2007.
  2. Craig Venter meets with BABS Students University of New South Wales (18 March 2005)
  3. Time, February 4, 2008. Venter attended Mills High School from Millbrae, CA
  4. "Vietnam, sea snakes and a suicide bid", The Guardian, October 9, 2007, 
  5. Howse, Christopher (October 23, 2007), "Swimming back to life again", UK Telegraph, 
  6. Rae-Venter Law Group
  7. 7.0 7.1 The god of small things - Science - Specials -
  8. High-profile departure ends genome institute's charmed run, M. Wadman, Nature Medicine 13, 518 (2007).
  9. In re Fisher, 421 F.3d 1365 (2005).
  10. , Harvard Law Review 119 (8), 2006, 
  11. Weber, J.L.; Myers, E.W. (1997), , Genome Research 7 (5): 401–409, 
  12. Green, P. (1997), , Genome Research 7 (5): 410–417, 
  13. Venter, J. Craig; Adams, Mark D.; Myers, Eugene W.; Li, Peter W.; Mural, Richard J.; Sutton, Granger G.; Smith, Hamilton O.; Yandell, Mark; et al. (2001), "The Sequence of the Human Genome", Science 291 (5507): 1304–1351, doi:10.1126/science.1058040, PMID 11181995 
  14. Lander, E.S.; Linton, L.M.; Birren, B.; Nusbaum, C.; Zody, M.C.; Baldwin, J.; Devon, K.; Dewar, K.; et al. (2001), "International Human Genome Sequencing Consortium (2001) Initial sequencing and analysis of the human …", Nature 409: 860–921 
  15. Olson, M.V. (2002), "The Human Genome Project: A Player's Perspective", Journal of Molecular Biology 319 (4): 931–942, doi:10.1016/S0022-2836(02)00333-9, 
  16. Antonio Regalo, "Maverick biologist at work on next goal: creating life", Seattle Times, July 24, 2005.
  17. Jamie Shreeve, "The Blueprint of Life," U.S. News and World Report, 10/31/05, URL accessed 30 January 2007.
  18. "Montgomery County, Maryland, Press Releases," December 19, 2000, URL accessed 30 January 2007.
  19. Larkman, Kirell (September 7 2007). "Yacht for Sale: Suited for Sailing, Surfing, and Seaborne Metagenomics",, GenomeWeb News. Retrieved on 7 September 2007. 
  20. Shreeve, James. "Craig Venter's Epic Voyage to Redefine the Origin of the Species," Wired, August 2004. Accessed June 7, 2007.
  21. "The Journey of the Sorcerer", The Economist, December 4, 2004.
  22. First individual person's genome decoded - Cosmos Magazine. September 4, 2007.
  23. Geneticists on verge of creating artificial life - Cosmos Magazine. October 8, 2007.
  24. Douthat, Ross. "The God of Small Things," Atlantic Monthly, Jan/Feb 2007.
  25. Warren, Jessica. [1], The Daily Free Press, April 28, 2004. Accessed August 2, 2008.
  26. Aufrett, Sarah. "ASU Celebrates Spring Graduates", ASU Insight, May 11, 2007. Accessed June 7, 2007.
  27. 27.0 27.1 Levy S, Sutton G, Ng PC, Feuk L, Halpern AL, et al. (2007). "The Diploid Genome Sequence of an Individual Human". PLoS Biology 5 (10). doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0050254. 
  28. TED | Talks | Craig Venter: On the verge of creating synthetic life (video)
  29. [2]
  30. Omim - Ear Wax, Wet/Dry
  31. Venter, J.C. (2007). A Life Decoded. ISBN 978-0-670-06358-1. 
  32. Biologist Venter aims to create life from scratch
  33. Man-made microbe 'to create endless biofuel' - Telegraph
  34. New Scientist Issue 2626 Pg 57

External linksEdit


Media External linksEdit

NAME Venter, Craig
SHORT DESCRIPTION American biologist
DATE OF BIRTH October 14, 1946
ar:كريغ فينتر

ca:John Craig Venter de:Craig Venter es:Craig Venter fr:Craig Venter ko:크레이그 벤터 it:Craig Venter ku:Craig Venter ja:クレイグ・ヴェンター pl:Craig Venter ru:Вентер, Крейг fi:Craig Venter sv:Craig Venter tr:Craig Venter zh:克萊格·凡特

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