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Craig Venter

Craig VenterAKA John Craig Venter

Born: 14-Oct-1946
Birthplace: Salt Lake City, UT

Gender: Male
Religion: Atheist [1]
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Biologist, Business

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Engineered the first man-made bacterial cell

Military service: U.S. Naval Medical Corps (Vietnam)

American biologist and entrepreneur Craig Venter developed a new technique to identify unknown genes in other organisms, cells, or tissues, using small segments of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) called expressed sequence tags (ESTs). He then attempted to patent the gene fragments identified through this technique, a move considered controversial in scientific circles.

In 1995 Venter's team determined the genomic sequence of Haemophilus influenzae, a bacterium that can cause meningitis. In 2000 Venter's team announced that it had determined a "rough draft" sequence of the human genome, work which was completed three years later. In 2007 he announced the first successful mapping of the complete (six-billion-letter) genome of an individual human his own diploid (two complete sets of chromosomes, one from each parent) genome.

In 2010, Venter's team announced that he and his team had sewn together strands of DNA to create the first man-made bacterial cell, Mycoplasma mycoides JCVI-syn1.0. After insertion of his synthetically-designed genome, the cell created proteins according to the blueprint in the synthetic genome, and continued acting as a normal bacterial cell.

Venter has also contributed to the sequencing of the genomes of the fruit fly, mouse, and rat, and he is the founder or co-founder of The Institute for Genomic Research (1992), Celera Genomics (1998), Synthetic Genomics (2005), and the J. Craig Venter Research Institute (2006). Critics and colleagues have described Venter as an egomaniac; his response is: "I wouldn't have mapped the human genome if I was lacking in confidence."

[1] Interview, 60 Minutes, 21 November 2010.

Father: John Eugene Venter (accountant, b. 18-Aug-1923, d. 10-Jun-1982)
Mother: Elizabeth Jeanne Wisdom (artist)
Brother: Gary Gene Venter
Sister: Suzzanna Patrice Venter Taylor ("Susie")
Brother: Keith Henry Venter
Wife: Barbara Rae-Venter (attorney, m. 1968, div., one son)
Son: Christopher Emrys Rea Venter
Claire M. Fraser-Liggett (geneticist, b. circa 1955, m. 1981, div. 2005)

    High School: Mills High School, Millbrae, CA (1964)
    University: College of San Mateo (attended)
    University: BA Biochemistry, University of California at San Diego (1972)
    University: PhD Physiology & Pharmacology, University of California at San Diego (1975)
    Teacher: Neurochemistry, State University of New York at Buffalo (1976-84)

    J. Craig Venter Research Institute Founder & President (2006)
    Synthetic Genomics Inc. Co-Founder (2005)
    Celera Genomics Founder (1998)
    Human Genome Sciences The Institute for Genomic Research (1992-98)
    National Institutes of Health (1984-92)
    Award for the Industrial Application of Science (2002)
    FFF Walter Kistler Prize (2008)
    National Medal of Science (2008)
    Benjamin Rush Medal (2011)
    Hillary Clinton for President
    Obama for America
    Science Debate 2008
    World Technology Network

    Surviving Progress (11-Sep-2011) · Himself

Appears on the cover of:
Time, 3-Jul-2000, DETAILS: Cracking the Code! (with Francis Collins)

Author of books:
Monoclonal and Anti-Idiotypic Antibodies (1984, with Claire M. Fraser-Liggett, Jon Lindstrom)
Structure and Physiology of the Slow Inward Calcium Channel (1987, with D. J. Triggle)
Target-Size Analysis of Membrane Proteins (1987, with Chan Jung)
A Life Decoded: My Genome, My Life (2007, memoir)

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