J. Craig Venter is a biologist most known for his contributions, in 2001, of sequencing the first draft human genome and in 2007 for the first complete diploid human genome. In 2010 he and his team announced success in constructing the first synthetic bacterial cell. He is a founder and president of the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) and founder and CEO of the company, Synthetic Genomics Inc (JCVI). His present work focuses on creating synthetic biological organisms and applications of this work, and discovering genetic diversity in the world’s oceans. Dr. Venter is the 2008 National Medal of Science and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences. He is the author of A Life Decoded: My Genome: My Life (Viking, 2007).
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Scientist and entrepreneur Craig Venter made headlines in 2000 when he was one of the first to sequence the human genome.
Now, he’s announced another big step: the creation of synthetic life in a laboratory – a bacterium with a cooked-up, man-made genetic code.
The breakthrough could eventually lead to tailor-made organisms and big benefits in medicine, energy and beyond.
But what about the ethics – and the risks – of making life in a lab?
Synthetic biology hit the headlines when Craig Venter recently announced the creation of Synthia – the first organism with a computer as a parent. JCVI-syn1.0, as the artificial microbe is officially known, will become a poster child for synthetic biology. But it was created from known genetic sequences. Roland Pease looks beyond Synthia, at the work of biologists and chemists hoping to recreate life from scratch.