Ten years after the completion of the Human Genome Project, we stand on the cusp of an era of personalized medicine and the much hyped, sometimes maligned possibility of a "synthetic biology."
George Church, a leading figure in the human genome project, has long advocated the virtues of an "Open Source approach" (see Polonator.org the first open source sequencing machine). The Biobricks Foundation, and the newly created BioFab, work to create an open standard for the field of synthetic biology. Can an "Open Source" model, in which essential biotechnologies are accessible as an "innovation commons," provide a way forward? See Freeman Dyson for a vision of an era of radically "democratized," decentralized biology.
Drew Endy was a junior fellow for 3 years and later an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Engineering at MIT. In September 2008, he moved to Palo Alto to become an assistant professor in the Department of Bioengineering at Stanford University. With Thomas Knight, Gerald Jay Sussman, and other researchers at MIT, Endy is working on synthetic biology and the engineering of standardized biological components, devices, and parts, collectively known as BioBricks. Endy is one of several founders of the Registry of Standard Biological Parts, and invented an abstraction hierarchy for integrated genetic systems.
Endy is also known for his opposition to limited ownership and support of free access to genetic information. He has been one of the early promoters of open source biology, and helped start the Biobricks Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that will work to support open-source biology. He was also a co-founder of the now defunct Codon Devices, a biotechnology startup company that aimed to commercialize synthetic biology.
Thomas Goetz is executive editor of WIRED magazine and author of the book The Decision Tree: Taking Control of Your Health in the New Era of Personalized Medicine. Since Goetz joined WIRED in 2001, the magazine has been nominated for 18 National Magazine awards and has won nine times, including the top award for General Excellence three times. His cover stories at WIRED have been selected for both the Best American Science Writing and the Best Technology Writing anthologies. Before joining WIRED, Goetz held posts at the Village Voice, then at the Wall Street Journal, and The Industry Standard.
Tim Hubbard graduated with a BA in Biochemistry from University of Cambridge in 1985 and a PhD in Protein Design from the Department of Crystallography, Birkbeck College, London in 1988.
At the Sanger Institute Hubbard was a member of the strategy group that organized the sequencing of the human genome as part of the international public consortium. During this time he built up groups to analyze and annotate the sequences of vertebrate genomes. In 1999 he developed an automatic annotation system and starting applying it in real time to sequence output of the human genome project. This evolved into the Ensembl project with Michele Clamp and Ewan Birney from the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI), which now provides annotation to more than 40 genomes. In parallel, the HAVANA group have carried out large scale manual annotation of human, mouse and zebrafish genomes.
Since 2007 Hubbard has been the principal investigator of GENCODE, a scale up programme of the ENCODE project, which brings together HAVANA, Ensembl and seven external groups to generate the reference geneset for the human genome. He is also the Sanger Institute principal investigator of the Genome Reference Consortium, which is responsible for reference genome sequences of human and mouse.
Alexander Wait Zaranek
Alexander Zaranek has been director of informatics at the Personal Genome Project since 2005. The PGP is the only project worldwide that provides "open-access" to well integrated human tissue-samples, genetic data and phenotype data. They were one of the first users of CC0. The commitment to openness has also led to his longtime collaboration on the Polonator which is the only open-innovation instrument platform for DNA sequencing. The Polonator, and related technologies, is part of the revolution that brought DNA sequencing costs down by 10,000-fold in the last four years. More recently it has also served as a platform for synthetic chemistry and cell biology in the same open device. Finally, along with his colleagues at the PGP, Zaranek has spearheaded an open clinical genome sequence interpretation and evidence database.
His professional interests include: personalized medicine, exascale computing, and free knowledge business models. When he can, he still enjoys tinkering with quantum lifeforms and synthetic biology.