Top Famous Biotechnologists
1. MICHAEL ASHBURNER
Michael Ashburner is Professor of Biology at the University of Cambridge where he received his undergraduate degree and PhD, both in genetics. Ashburner’s current major research interests are the structure and evolution of genomes. Most of his research has been with the model organism Drosophila melanogaster, about which he has written the book Drosophila: A Laboratory Handbook. His research has covered a range of subjects, from classical genetics, developmental biology, cytogenetics to evolution, at both molecular and organismal levels. Ashburner is a founder of FlyBase, and of the Gene Ontology Consortium. From 1994-2001 Ashburner served first as research coordinator and then joint-head of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory – European Bioinformatics Institute at Hinxton, Cambridge. Ashburner is a Fellow of the Royal Society of London and of the Academia Europeae; he is a foreign honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a member of the European Molecular Biology Organisation, and past president of the British Genetical Society. He also is a Professorial Fellow of Churchill
2. DAVID BALTIMORE
David Baltimore, one of the world’s most distinguished biologists and winner of the 1975 Nobel Prize for his work in virology, became president of the California Institute of Technology in 1997. Previously he was a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, founding director of the WhiteheadInstitute for Biomedical Research at MIT, and the president of Rockefeller University. His career has been distinguished by his dual contribution to biological
research and to national science policy. He helped pioneer the molecular study of animal virus es, and his research in this field had profound implications for understanding cancer and, later, AIDS. In 1999 he was awarded the National Medal of Science, he was a co-recipient of the 2000 Warren Alpert Foundation Prize and was awarded the 2002 AMA Scientific Achievement Award.
3. SEYMOUR BENZER
Seymour Benzer instilled the fundamental idea that genes control behaviour. He began his career studying gene structure and code, developing a method to determine the detailed structure of viral genes in 1955. He then switched to the field of neurogenetics, focusing on the inheritance of behaviour. Benzer used gene mutations to dissect the underlying events in the nervous system of the fruit fly, Drosophila . His work led to the discovery of specific genes
that participate in various behavioral phenomena including control of the biological clock, and those important in the prevention of neurodegeneration. At age 82, Professor Benzer continues his research focusing on the problem of aging as the James Griffin Boswell Professor of Neuroscience, Emeritus at the California Institute of Technology
4. PAUL BERG
Paul Berg is Cahill Professor in Cancer Research, Emeritus, at the Stanford University School of Medicine, and director emeritus of the Beckman Centre for Molecular and Genetic Medicine. He is one of the principal pioneers in the field of “gene splicing.” Berg, along with his colleagues Walter Gilbert and Frederick Sanger, was awarded the 1980 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for developing methods that make it possible to map the structure and function of
DNA. His work on the genetic apparatus that directs the synthesis of proteins earned Berg the Eli Lilly Award in Biochemistry in 1959 and the California Scientist of the Year Award in 1963. He has twice been honored
with the Henry J. Kaiser Award for Excellence in Teaching at the Stanford University School of Medicine and has won the Roche Institute for Molecular Biology’s V. D. Mattia Prize, the Sarasota Medical Awards for Achievement and Excellence, the Annual Award of the Gairdner Foundation, the Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award,
and the New York Academy of Sciences Award. He also has won the American Association for the Advancement of Science Scientific Freedom and Responsibility Award, the National Medal of Science, and the National Library of Medicine Medal.
5. J. MICHAEL BISHOP
J. Michael Bishop, is Chancellor, Arthur and Toni Rembe Rock Distinguished Professor, and Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of California, San Francisco. A recognized authority on the molecular mechanisms of cancer, he shared numerous awards with his colleague Harold Varmus, including the 1982 Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research, the 1984 Alfred P. Sloan Jr. Prize from the General Motors Cancer Research Foundation, the 1984 Gairdner Foundation International Award, and the 1989 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Bishop has received the 2003 National Medal of Science; is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society; and holds honorary degrees from several universities. He continues to teach medical students and supervise a research team studying the molecular pathogenesis of cancer. He is the author of
more than 300 research publications and reviews, and of the book How to Win the Nobel Prize: An Unexpected Life in Science.
6. ELIZABETH BLACKBURN
Elizabeth Blackburn is a leader in the area of telomere and telomerase research, and is a world-renowned expert on both their influence in cells and their implications for human health. She has made several key discoveries in different aspects of telomere function and biology, including their molecular structure and discovery of the ribonucleoprotein enzyme, telomerase. More recently, Blackburn has been applying her insights into telomere biology to the development of a new anti-cancer therapy that forces cancerous cells with active telomerase to make errors during telomere synthesis, effectively triggering cellular suicide. Blackburn is currently the Morris Herzstein Professor of Biology and Physiology in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of
California, San Francisco, and also a non-resident Fellow of the Salk
Institute for Biological Studies.
7. BARUCH S. BLUMBERG
Baruch S. Blumberg is a Distinguished Scientist at Fox Chase Cancer Centre, and University Professor of Medicine
and Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania. He has served as director of the National Aeronautics and Space
Administration (NASA) Astrobiology Institute and in 2001 was Senior Advisor to the Administrator of NASA; was Master of Balliol College, Oxford University, (1989-1994) and was on the staff of the National Institutes of Health. (1957-1964). Blumberg received the Nobel prize in Medicine in 1976 for work on the hepatitis B virus (HBV). Baruch and colleagues identified HBV in the mid 1960s. Diagnostics and a vaccine were invented soon afterwards; they have a wide application in clinical and preventive medicine. The vaccine has been administered to more than one billion people in over 150 national programs and has resulted in a dramatic drop in the infection rate and in deaths from liver disease due to HBV including liver cancer.
8. DAVID BOTSTEIN
David Botstein is Director and Anthony B. Evnin Professor of Genomics at the Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics, Princeton University. He was as Vice President, Science, at Genentech and has chaired Stanford University’s Department of Genetics. Botstein’s research has centred on genetics, especially the use of genetic methods to understand biological functions. Botstein’s current research effort is devoted to the study of yeast biology at the system level. In August 2004, the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), part of the National Institutes of Health, announced establishment of a Centre of Excel-lence in Complex Biomedical Systems
Research at Princeton, headed by Botstein. The centre will serve as the hub, and provide infrastructure for, research and teaching programs at the interface of biology and the more quantitative and physical sciences.
9. George Rathmann
George Blatz Rathmann was an American chemist, biologist, pioneer in biotechnology and corporate executive, who in 1980 co-founded and served as the first CEO of Amgen, and later founded ICOS
Rathmann was born on December 25, 1927, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His mother was from the Valentin Blatz Brewing Company Blatzes, while his father was of more humble origins. He was drawn to science and was inspired by an older brother and brother-in-law who were chemists, and by Mr. Leker, his high school chemistry teacher at Milwaukee University School (where his grandfather had taught years before). He had originally planned to attend medical school, before switching to physical chemistry and obtained a B.S. degree in physical chemistry at Northwestern University in three years, then earning a Ph.D. at Princeton in 1951, by which time he had already been recruited by 3M as a research chemist, where he worked for twenty-one years, helping develop Scotchgard and rising from scientist to corporate manager.
10. Károly Ereky
Hungarian Károly Ereky coined the word “biotechnology” in Hungary during 1919 to describe a technology based on converting raw materials into a more useful product. He built a slaughterhouse for a thousand pigs and also a fattening farm with space for 50,000 pigs, raising over 100,000 pigs a year. The enterprise was enormous, becoming one of the largest and most profitable meat and fat operations in the world. In a book entitled Biotechnologie, Ereky further developed a theme that would be reiterated through the 20th century: biotechnology could provide solutions to societal crises, such as food and energy shortages. For Ereky, the term “biotechnologie” indicated the process by which raw materials could be biologically upgraded into socially useful products.
Max Delbrück grew yeast on an immense scale during the war to meet 60 percent of Germany’s animal feed needs.
12. Arthur Kornberg
Arthur Kornberg (March 3, 1918 – October 26, 2007) was an American biochemist who won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1959 for his discovery of “the mechanisms in the biological synthesis of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA)” together with Dr. Severo Ochoa of New York University. He was also awarded the Paul-Lewis Award in Enzyme Chemistry from the American Chemical Society in 1951, L.H.D. degree from Yeshiva University in 1962, as well as National Medal of Science in 1979.
His primary research interests were in biochemistry, especially enzyme chemistry, deoxyribonucleic acid synthesis (DNA replication) and studying the nucleic acids which control heredity in animals, plants, bacteria and viruses.