University in chemistry and zoology, he co-authored research on 3D software and RNA structure with Sung-Hou Kim. His Ph.D. from Harvard in biochemistry and molecular biology with Wally Gilbert included the first direct genomic sequencing method in 1984; initiating the Human Genome Project then as a research scientist at newly formed Biogen Inc. and a Monsanto Life Sciences Research Fellow at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), with Gail Martin. He invented the broadly applied concepts of molecular multiplexing and tags, homologous recombination methods, and array DNA synthesizers. Technology transfer of automated sequencing and software to Genome Therapeutics Corp. resulted in the first commercial genome sequence (the human pathogen, H. pylori, in 1994). This multiplex solid-phase sequencing evolved into polonies (1999), ABI-SOLiD (2005), and open-source Polonator.org (2007) and Personal Genomes.org. He has served in advisory roles for 12 journals (including Nature Molecular Systems Biology), 5 granting agencies, and 24 biotech companies (e.g., 23andme and recently founding Codon Devices, Knome, and LS9). Current research focuses on integrating biosystems modeling with personal genomics and synthetic biology.
James J. Collins, Ph.D., is an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and a William F. Warren Distinguished Professor, University Professor, Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Professor of Medicine and Co-Director of the Center for BioDynamics at Boston University. He is also a core founding faculty member of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University. His research group works in synthetic biology and systems biology, with a particular focus on network biology approaches to antibiotic action and bacterial defense mechanisms.
Andrew Ellington, Ph.D., received his B.S. in biochemistry from Michigan State University in 1981, and his Ph.D. in biochemistry and molecular biology from Harvard in 1988. As a graduate student he worked with Dr. Steve Benner on the evolutionary optimization of dehydrogenase isozymes. His postdoctoral work was with Dr. Jack Szostak at Massachusetts General Hospital, where he developed methods for the in vitro selection of functional nucleic acids and coined the term “aptamer.” Dr. Ellington began his academic career as an assistant professor of chemistry at Indiana University in 1992 and continued to develop selection methods. He has received the Office of Naval Research Young Investigator, Cottrell, and Pew Scholar awards. In 1998 he moved to the University of Texas at Austin and is now the Fraser Professor of Biochemistry. Dr. Ellington’s lab works on the development of functional nucleic acids for practical applications, including aptamer biosensors, allosteric ribozyme logic gates (aptazymes), and internalizing nucleic acids that can deliver siRNAs to cells. The next leap forward will hopefully be to develop synthetic genetic circuits that can perform amorphous