And Future Ambitions

Editor's Note: For the past four years, former National Institutes of Health researcher J. Craig Venter has been a major figure in the turbulent debates and scientific discoveries surrounding the study of genes and genomes. Events heated up in 1991, when NIH attempted to patent gene fragments, which were isolated using Venter's expressed sequence tag (EST)/complementary DNA (cDNA) approach for discovering human genes (M.A. Adams et al., Science, 252:1651-6, 1991). NIH's move was widely criticized by the scientific community because, at the time, the function of genes associated with the partial sequences was unknown. Critics charged that patent protection for the gene segments would forstall future research on them. Despite NIH's reliance on the EST/cDNA technique, Venter could not obtain government funding to expand his research, prompting him to leave NIH in 1992. Since then he has been president and director of The Institute for Genomic Research...

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