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Patrinos leaving DOE on a high note

Ari Patrinos is ending his stint as associate director of science for biological and environmental research at the Department of Energy to head up Synthetic Genomics, Inc, a linkurl:J. Craig Venter venture;http://www.the-scientist.com/2006/1/1/38/1/ launched this past summer. Having spent ten years leading the DOE?s often budget-crunched biology efforts, I couldn?t help but wonder why he was leaving prior to a huge influx of government money as mentioned in George Bush?s linkurl:State of the Un

By | February 2, 2006

Ari Patrinos is ending his stint as associate director of science for biological and environmental research at the Department of Energy to head up Synthetic Genomics, Inc, a linkurl:J. Craig Venter venture;http://www.the-scientist.com/2006/1/1/38/1/ launched this past summer. Having spent ten years leading the DOE?s often budget-crunched biology efforts, I couldn?t help but wonder why he was leaving prior to a huge influx of government money as mentioned in George Bush?s linkurl:State of the Union;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/23032/ address. But Patrinos tells me that his father, once a famous soccer player in Egypt, had told him ?The time to walk away is when you?re on the top.? But the top is hard to define for someone with a record like Patrinos?. During his DOE tenure, Patrinos was an important player in the efforts to sequence the human genome, garnering much public support and smoothening relations between the public funded project and the Celera push headed by Venter. He also helped to conceive the DOE?s linkurl:Genomes to Life;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/15304/ (GTL) program, which he says was on the chopping block this past summer when the DOE secretary Samuel Bodman called on Patrinos to justify spending on biological research. ?From being a skeptic, he is now a great friend,? Patrinos says of Bodman. And although physical sciences will see a lion?s share of Bush?s new funding push, Patrinos says he?s confident that Genomes to Life will get ?a significant boost,? nearing $200 million/per year in the next two to three years. Patrinos? last day at the DOE is Wednesday, and his first day at Synthetic Genomics is Thursday. He hopes to be carrying on the mission of GTL by drumming up more industrial interest in working with biologically derived alternatives to petroleum. ?I?m extremely excited to try my hand at this venture,? he says.
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