J. Craig Venter, Ph.D., is regarded as one of the leading scientists of the 21st century. In 2001, Venter led the private effort to sequence successfully the human genome. In more recent years, he has led an ambitious project to sample, catalogue and decode the genes of the ocean's unknown microorganisms. In 2008, scientists at the J. Craig Venter Institute announced that they had manufactured the entire genome of a bacterium by painstakingly stitching together its chemical components. By sequencing a genome, scientists can begin to custom-design bootable organisms, creating biological robots that can produce from scratch chemicals humans can use, such as biofuel. And in 2010, those scientists announced that they had created "synthetic life" -- DNA created digitally, inserted into a living bacterium, and remaining alive.
Venter is the founder, chairman, and CEO of the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI), a not-for-profit, research organization with approximately 250 scientists and staff dedicated to human, microbial, plant, synthetic and environmental genomic research, and the exploration of social and ethical issues in genomics. He is the is co-founder, executive chairman and co-chief scientist of Synthetic Genomics, Inc. (SGI), a privately held company focused on developing products and solutions using synthetic genomics technologies. Dr. Venter is also a co-founder and executive chairman of Human Longevity, Inc. (HLI), a San Diego-based genomics and cell therapy-based diagnostic and therapeutic company focused on extending the healthy, high performance human life span.
Craig Venter earned both a Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry and a Ph.D. in Physiology and Pharmacology from the University of California at San Diego and then taught at the State University of New York at Buffalo and the Roswell Park Cancer Institute. In 1984, he moved to the National Institutes of Health campus where he developed Expressed Sequence Tags or ESTs, a revolutionary new strategy for rapid gene discovery. In 1992 Dr. Venter founded The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR, now part of JCVI), a not-for-profit research institute, where in 1995 he and his team decoded the genome of the first free-living organism, the bacterium Haemophilus influenzae, using his new whole genome shotgun technique.