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Distinguished Speaker Series

J. Craig Venter

Pioneering Scientific Researcher J. Craig Venter Speaks on Campus

J. Craig Venter

The Farquhar College of Arts and Sciences welcomed renowned genomic researcher J. Craig Venter, Ph.D., to Nova Southeastern University as part of the college's 2013-2014 Distinguished Speakers Series.

Most well-known for his visionary contributions in sequencing the first draft of the human genome and the first complete human genome sequence, Venter has positively impacted human health and the treatment of disease. His work enables a better understanding of the environment and has the potential for creating new biological sources of food, fuel, vaccines, and clean water.

In 1984, on the National Institutes of Health campus, Venter developed Expressed Sequence Tags (ESTs), a revolutionary strategy for rapid gene discovery. In 1995, he and his team at The Institute for Genomic Research decoded the genome of the first free-living organism, the bacterium Haemophilus influenzae, using his new whole genome shotgun technique. Three years later, Venter founded Celera Genomics to sequence the human genome using new tools and techniques he and his team developed. This research culminated with the February 2001 publication of the human genome in the journal Science. He and his team at Celera also sequenced the fruit fly, mouse, and rat genomes.

Venter is founder, chairman, and CEO of the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI), a not-for-profit, research organization with approximately 300 scientists and staff dedicated to human, microbial, plant, synthetic and environmental genomic research, and the exploration of social and ethical issues in genomics. Venter is also founder and CEO of Synthetic Genomics Inc. (SGI), a privately held company dedicated to commercializing genomic-driven solutions to address global needs.

Venter and his team at JCVI have sequenced and analyzed hundreds of genomes, and have published numerous papers covering such areas as environmental genomics, the first complete diploid human genome, and the groundbreaking advance in creating the first self- replicating bacterial cell constructed entirely with synthetic DNA.

Venter is the author of more than 250 research articles. He is also the recipient of numerous honorary degrees, public honors, and scientific awards, including the 2008 United States National Medal of Science, the 2002 Gairdner Foundation International Award, the 2001 Paul Ehrlich and Ludwig Darmstaedter Prize, and the King Faisal International Award for Science.

Venter began his formal education after a tour of duty as a Navy Corpsman in Vietnam from 1967 to 1968. After earning both a bachelor's degree in biochemistry and a Ph.D. in Physiology and Pharmacology from the University of California at San Diego, he was appointed professor at the State University of New York at Buffalo and the Roswell Park Cancer Institute. Venter is also the author of two books-his autobiography, A Life Decoded: My Genome, My Life, and Life at the Speed of Light, which outlines the history and advances in the field of synthetic biology.

As part of the college mission to prepare students for rich professional careers and active citizenship, the college frames co-curricular programs and experiences around a broad annual academic theme that unites our community in interdisciplinary exploration. The academic theme for the 2013-2014 school year is "Good and Evil." Venter spoke on this theme.

For more information on the Distinguished Speakers Series, contact the Office of the Dean at (954) 262-8236.

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