Craig Venter

(John Craig Venter)

Craig Venter
Craig Venter
  • Born: October 14, 1946
  • Nationality: American
  • Profession: Scientist









John Craig Venter is an American biotechnologist, biochemist, geneticist, and businessman. He is known for leading the first draft sequence of the human genome and assembled the first team to transfect a cell with a synthetic chromosome. Venter founded Celera Genomics, The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR) and the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI), where he currently serves as CEO. He was the co-founder of Human Longevity Inc. and Synthetic Genomics. He was listed on Time magazine's 2007 and 2008 Time 100 list of the most influential people in the world. In 2010, the British magazine New Statesman listed Craig Venter at 14th in the list of "The World's 50 Most Influential Figures 2010". He is a member of the USA Science and Engineering Festival's Advisory Board.

Quotes About
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… we have one life on this planet. We have one chance to live it and to contribute to the future of society and the future of life. The only "afterlife" is what other people remember of you. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
… we think once we do activate a genome, that yes, it probably will impact people’s thinking about life. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
… work on synthetic biology, or synbio, had become so cheap that its practitioners were no longer classically trained biologists. This meant that there were no shared assumptions regarding the new field’s ethics, professional standards, or safety. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
Almost every scientific breakthrough I have ever been associated with was funded with private money. Once we could show it worked, we could get all the government money we wanted. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
Existing [biological ethical] standards, in some cases regulated by government agencies in the United States and other developed countries, were a generation old and therefore outdated. Morality, Ethics & Conflict of Interest
I consider myself fundamentally more of an environmentalist than many of the environmental groups. We have to come up with new sources of food, new sources of water, new sources of energy. Trying to ignore leading-edge science and technology as a means of getting there is an ostrich approach of burying your head in the sand. Energy ;Environment & Environmentalism
If you want to be immortal, do something useful in your lifetime. Human Nature
Moving forward in science is as much unwinding the distorted thinking of the past as it is putting a clearer idea on the table. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
The government needs good science, and I’m not willing to abdicate the role of advising the Administration and Congress on [science] policy. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
There’s not a single aspect of human life that doesn’t have the potential to be totally transformed by these technologies in the future. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
We are a society now that is 100 percent dependent on science. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
We have discovered over 95 percent of all the genes that have been discovered by science off the deck of my sailboat. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
What did you do to change the world today? Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
A doctor can save maybe a few hundred lives in a lifetime. A researcher can save the whole world.
A lot of people spend their last decade of their lives in pain and misery combating disease.
Accuracy in the genetic field will be essential. Errors in testing could be disastrous.
Agriculture as we know it needs to disappear. We can design better and healthier proteins than we get from nature. Nature
As a scientist, I clearly see the potential for harnessing the power of nature. Nature ;Power
As the Industrial Age is drawing to a close, I think that we're witnessing the dawn of the era of biological design.
Carole Lartigue led the effort to actually transplant a bacterial chromosome from one bacteria to another.
Cells will die in minutes to days if they lack their genetic information system. They will not evolve, they will not replicate, and they will not live.
Companies, cities, and potentially even individuals could have a small refinery to make their own fuel.
Creating life at the speed of light is part of a new industrial revolution. Manufacturing will shift from centralised factories to a distributed, domestic manufacturing future, thanks to the rise of 3D printer technology. Life ;Future ;Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
Darwin didn't walk around the Galapagos and come up with the theory of evolution. He was exploring, collecting, making observations. It wasn't until he got back and went through the samples that he noticed the differences among them and put them in context.
Each part of our genome is unique. We would not be alive if there was not a single mathematical solution for our chromosomes. We would just be scrambled goo.
Early on, when you're working in a new area of science, you have to think about all the pitfalls and things that could lead you to believe that you had done something when you hadn't, and, even worse, leading others to believe it. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
Energy is probably the most pressing demand on our planet.
Ethanol's not an ideal fuel.
Even though people pretend that medical records are privileged information, anyone can already get their hands on them. Health, Healthcare & Medicine
Even with seemingly simple things like eye color, you can't tell from my genetic code whether I have blue eyes or not. So it's naive to think that complex human behaviors, like risk-seeking, are driven by changes in one or two genes.
Everybody is looking for a naturally occurring algae that is going to be a miracle cell to save the world, and after a century of looking, people still haven't found it.
For each gene in your genome, you quite often get a different version of that gene from your father and a different version from your mother. We need to study these relationships across a very large number of people.
Fred Sanger was one of the most important scientists of the 20th century.
Genes can't possibly explain all of what makes us what we are.
Genetic design is something we can use to fight the lack of sustainability we humans are forcing on the earth's environment.
Genome design is going to be a key part of the future. That's why we need fast, cheap, accurate DNA synthesis, so you can make a lot of iterations of something and test them. Future
How we understand our own selves and how we work with our DNA software has implications that will affect everything from vaccine development to new approaches to antibiotics, new sources of food, new sources of chemicals, even potentially new sources of energy. Work, Workers & The Labor Force ;Nutrition, Food, Starvation, Farming & Agriculture
Human lifespan used to be 30 years, 25 years. But there's no basic, fundamental reason why it has to be short.
I am absolutely certain that life can exist in outer space, move around, find a new aqueous environment. Life
I am confident that life once thrived on Mars and may well still exist there today. Life
I am not sure our brains and our psychologies are ready for immortality.
I don't see any absolute biological limit on human age.
I have a blend of klotho gene variants that have been linked with a lower risk for coronary artery disease and stroke and an advantage in longevity.
I have an unusual type of thinking. I have no visual memory whatsoever. Everything is conceptual to me.
I have this idea of trying to catalog all the genes on the planet.
I hope I'll be remembered for my scientific contribution to understanding life and human life. Life ;Hope
I naively thought that we could have a molecular definition for life, come up with a set of genes that would minimally define life. Nature just refuses to be so easily quantified. Life ;Nature
I see, in the future, bioengineered almost everything you can imagine that we use. Future
I somewhat joke that I know an awful lot because I learn from my mistakes. I just make a lot of mistakes. It's OK to fail in science just as long as you have the successes to go with the failures. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
I spent 10 years trying to find one gene.
I suppose if there's a set of genes I have, it's detesting authority.
I think from my experience in war and life and science, it all has made me believe that we have one life on this planet. Life ;War & Peace
I think future engineered species could be the source of food, hopefully a source of energy, environmental remediation and perhaps replacing the petrochemical industry. Future ;Nutrition, Food, Starvation, Farming & Agriculture
I think I'm a survivor. I could have suffered at least 100 professional deaths. I could come up with a list of the 100 times I've come closest to death, from having pneumonia as a child to car crashes. Death
I turned 65 last year, and each year I get more and more interested in human health. For most people it happens around age 50, but I've always been a slow learner. It's critical in terms of the cost of health care. Health, Healthcare & Medicine
I was a horrible student. I really hated school.
I was a surf bum wannabe. I left home at age 17 and moved to Southern California to try to take up surfing as a vocation, but this was in 1964, and there was this nasty little thing called the Vietnam War. As a result, I got drafted. War & Peace
I willed myself through a junior college to a university and, ultimately, a Ph.D.
I wrote an editorial piece in 'Science' about the nightly data release and how I thought it was bad for science as a field, I think a few years before Celera was formed. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
If I could change the science system, my prescription for changing the whole thing would be organising it around big goals and building teams to do it. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
If there is a race, it is one to bring the benefits of genomes to human therapeutics. We all want to get there. We all want people to have much more meaningful and productive lives as they age.
If you have lung cancer, the most important thing you can know is your genetic code.
In a biological system, the software builds its own hardware, but design is critical, and if you start with digital information, it has to be really accurate.
In the past, geneticists have looked at so-called disease genes, but a lot of people have changes in their genes and don't get these diseases. There have to be other parts of physiology and genetics that compensate.
Intellectual property is a key aspect for economic development.
Is my science of a level consistent with other people who have gotten the Nobel? Yes. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
It appears that the human genome does indeed contain deserts, or large, gene-poor regions.
It takes 10 kilograms of grain to produce one kilogram of beef, 15 liters of water to get one kilogram of beef, and those cows produce a lot of methane. Why not get rid of the cows?
It turns out synthesizing DNA is very difficult. There are tens of thousands of machines around the world that make small pieces of DNA - 30 to 50 letters in length - and it's a degenerate process, so the longer you make the piece, the more errors there are.
It's quite comforting to me as an individualist that we're not very close to being clones of one other.
It's very expensive to treat chronic diseases.
I've always been fascinated with adrenaline; it's saved my life more than once, and it's caused me to need it to save my life more than once. One of the most fascinating responses in human evolution, adrenaline sharpens your brain; it sharpens your responses. Life
I've gotten some pretty nice awards. I'm having trouble finding places to put them all.
I've had a very unusual background in science - not the usual route of planning on being a scientist from age 3. I think my story shows that success is more about personal motivation and determination than it is about where you were born or what your economic status was. Success ;Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
I've made money by just trying to do world-class science. That's the goal that we're setting at Celera. If we do world-class science and create new medicine paradigms, the money will more than follow at a corporate level and at a personal level. Money, Coins & Minting ;Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
Knowing what your parents have gives you hints of things, but your genome is a totally unique combination of and interchange of DNA from your parents. There is no one else like you genetically.
Life is a DNA software system. Life
Life was so cheap in Vietnam. That is where my sense of urgency comes from. Life
Mathematicians have been hiding and writing messages in the genetic code for a long time, but it's clear they were mathematicians and not biologists because, if you write long messages with the code that the mathematicians developed, it would more than likely lead to new proteins being synthesized with unknown functions. Time
Mitochondrial DNA is in higher concentration, lasts longer, and can be extracted from bones.
Most people don't realize it, because they're invisible, but microbes make up about a half of the Earth's biomass, whereas all animals only make up about one one-thousandth of all the biomass.
My complaint is that there are more books and news articles than there are primary scientific papers. I am probably the biggest critic of the hypesters, because it's dangerous when fields get overhyped.
My early years were hardly a model of focus, discipline, and direction. No one who met me as a teenager could have imagined my going into research and making important discoveries. No one could have predicted the arc of my career.
My genetic autobiography can be found throughout my body.
My greatest fear is not the abuse of technology but that we will not use it at all. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
Nobel prizes are very special prizes, and it would be great to get one.
Now that we can read and write the genetic code, put it in digital form and translate it back into synthesized life, it will be possible to speed up biological evolution to the pace of social evolution. Life
Once we all have our genomes, some of these extremely rare diseases are going to be totally predictable.
One important part of scientific training is that scientists learn the boundaries, the safety issues, how to properly deal with and dispose of chemicals and reagents.
One of the fundamental discoveries I made about myself - early enough to make use of it - was that I am driven to seize life and to understand it. The motor that pushes me is propelled by more than scientific curiosity. Life
One of the things about genetics that has become clearer as we've done genomes - as we've worked our way through the evolutionary tree, including humans - is that we're probably much more genetic animals than we want to confess we are.
Organisms in the ocean provide over 40 percent of the oxygen we breathe, and they're the major sink for capturing all the carbon dioxide we constantly release into the atmosphere.
Part of the problem with the discovery of the so-called breast-cancer genes was that physicians wrongly told women that had the genetic changes associated with the genes that they had a 99% chance of getting breast cancer. Turns out all women that have these genetic changes don't get breast cancer. Women
Patents are basically rights to try and develop a commercial product.
People are comprised of sets of DNA from each parent. If you looked at just the DNA from your father, it wouldn't tell you who you really are.
People equate patents with secrecy, that secrecy is what patents were designed to overcome. That's why the formula for Coca-Cola was never patented. They kept it as a trade secret, and they've outlasted patent laws by 80 years or more.
People think genes are an absolute cause of traits. But the notion that the genome is the blueprint for humanity is a very bad metaphor. If you think we're hard-wired and deterministic, there should indeed be a lot more genes.
People think that Celera's trying to patent the whole human genome because it's been used as - I guess people in Washington learn how to do political attacks, and so it gets used as a political weapon, not as a factual one.
People think they're making individual decisions for themselves and their family not to get vaccinated. It's not just an individual choice - you're a hazard to society. Society ;Families, Children & Parenting
People want to protect the territory that they have, and they're very threatened by change. That's not true for all of scientists, but you know, fortunately, the scientific community moves forward in a conservative fashion.
Perfect pitch is genetic. It's 100% genetic.
Preventative medicine has to be the direction we go in. For example, if colon cancer is detected early - because a person knew he had a genetic risk and was having frequent exams - the surgery is relatively inexpensive and average survival is far greater than 10 years.
Privacy with medical information is a fallacy. If everyone's information is out there, it's part of the collective. Health, Healthcare & Medicine
Race has no genetic or scientific basis.
Right now, oil is being isolated around the globe, and there is a major effort in shipping, trucking and otherwise transporting that oil around to a very finite number of refineries. Biology allows us to make these same fuels in a much more distributed fashion.
Sailing is a big outlet for me.
Sailing is a big outlet for me. It's one of the key things I've been able to do by commingling science with sailing and my love of the sea. Also, I have several motorcycles, and I like to go on motorcycle trips. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex ;Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
San Francisco is one of my favorite cities on the planet.
Science should be the most fun job on the planet. You get to ask questions about the world around you and go out and seek the answers. Not to have fun doing that is crazy. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
Since my own genome was sequenced, my software has been broadcast into space in the form of electromagnetic waves, carrying my genetic information far beyond Earth. Whether there is any creature out there capable of making sense of the instructions in my genome, well, that's another question.
Society and medicine treat us all as members of populations, whereas as individuals we are all unique, and population statistics do not apply. Society
Sometime in the future, I am a hundred percent certain scientists will sit down at a computer terminal, design what they want the organism to do, and build it. Future
Space X's Elon Musk wants to colonize Mars with modules where earthlings can live. My teleporting technology is the number one way those individuals will get new information, new treatments of diseases that will occur on the planet, and new food sources. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology ;Nutrition, Food, Starvation, Farming & Agriculture
Synthetic biology can help address key challenges facing the planet and its population. Research in synthetic biology may lead to new things such as programmed cells that self-assemble at the sites of disease to repair damage.
The Anthropocentic Age - the first age in which humankind is the dominant species on the planet - cuts both ways: it is up to us to destroy or save the planet. We certainly have the ability.
The chemistry from compounds in the environment is orders of magnitude more complex than our best chemists can produce.
The day is not far off when we will be able to send a robotically controlled genome-sequencing unit in a probe to other planets to read the DNA sequence of any alien microbe life that may be there. Life
The environment has fallen to the wayside in politics. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
The fact that I have a risk genetically for Alzheimer's and blindness is not great news. But the reality is that any one of us will have dozens of these risks, and what we have to learn is how to deal with them.
The future of society is 100% dependent on scientific advances. Society ;Future
The gene 'klotho' was named after the Greek Fate purported to spin the thread of life, because it contributes to longevity. Life
The Janus-like nature of innovation - its responsible use and so on - was evident at the very birth of human ingenuity, when humankind first discovered how to make fire on demand. Nature
The mouse genome is an invaluable tool to interpret the human genome.
The only 'afterlife' is what other people remember of you.
The pace of digitizing life has been increasing exponentially. Life
The photosynthesis we see with plants is not very efficient. Algaes are more efficient.
The problem with existing biology is you change only one or two genes at a time. Time
The rich agricultural nations are the ones that can adapt to the new biotechnologies.
The same oil that gets burned as fuel is also the entire basis for the petrochemical industries, so our clothing, our plastics and our pharmaceuticals all come from oil and its derivatives.
The trouble is the field of science, medicine, universities, biotech companies - you name it - have been so splintered, layers, sub-divided, hacked that people can spend their entire career studying one tiny little cog of life. Life ;Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
The Vietnam War totally turned my life around. Some people's lives were eliminated or destroyed by the experience. I was one of the fortunate few who came out better off. Life ;War & Peace
There are enzymes called restriction enzymes that actually digest DNA.
There are still so many questions to answer about the workings of the human body and, most mysterious of all, it is influenced by our state of mind.
There have been lots of stories written about all the hype over getting the genome done and the letdown of not discovering lots of cures right after.
There is a long history of how DNA sequencing can bring certainty to people's lives. History
There's a constant debate over nature or nurture - they're inseparable. Nature
There's a lot of what I call 'bio-babble' and hype out there from a lot of bioenergy companies.
There's not going to be any one replacement for oil: we need to have hundreds of solutions to this global issue.
Traditional autobiography has generally had a poor press. The novelist Daphne du Maurier condemned all examples of this literary form as self-indulgent. Others have quipped that autobiography reveals nothing bad about its writer except his memory.
Traditional ways of distinguishing populations are irrelevant in terms of genetic code.
Transposons are just small pieces of DNA that randomly insert in the genetic code. And if they insert in the middle of the gene, they disrupt its function.
We all evolved out of the same three or four groups in Africa, as black Africans.
We are going from reading our genetic code to the ability to write it. That gives us the hypothetical ability to do things never contemplated before.
We can create new food substances. Nutrition, Food, Starvation, Farming & Agriculture
We can create new ways to create clean water.
We can do genetics. We can do experiments on fruit flies. We can do experiments on yeast. It's not so easy to do experiments on humans. So, in fact, it helps us, to interpret our own genetic code, to have the genetic code of the other species.
We can now diagnose diseases that haven't even manifested in the patient, and may not until the fifth decade of life - if at all. Life
We find all kinds of species that have taken up a second chromosome or a third one from somewhere, adding thousands of new traits in a second to that species. So, people who think of evolution as just one gene changing at a time have missed much of biology. Time
We have 100 genes or so, which we know we can't knock out without killing the cell, that are of unknown structure.
We have 200 trillion cells, and the outcome of each of them is almost 100 percent genetically determined. And that's what our experiment with the first synthetic genome proves, at least in the case of really simple bacteria. It's the interactions of all those separate genetic units that give us the physiology that we see.
We have trouble feeding, providing fresh, clean water, medicines, fuel for the six and a half billion. It's going to be a stretch to do it for nine.
We know virtually all of the genes known to mammals. We do not know all of the combinations.
We need 10,000 genomes, not 100, to start to understand the link between genetics, disease and wellness.
We're a country of laws and rules, and the Supreme Court has ruled that life forms are patentable entities. Life
We're moving from reading the genetic code to writing it.
When I started my Ph.D. at the University of California, San Diego, I was told that it would be difficult to make a new discovery in biology because it was all known. It all seems so absurd now.
When most people talk about biofuels, they talk about using oils or grease from plants.
When you do cross-breeding of plants, you're doing this blind experiment where you're just mixing DNA of different types of cells and just seeing what comes out of it.
When you think of all the things that are made from oil or in the chemical industry, if in the future we could find cells to replace most of those processes, the ideal way would be to do it by direct design. Future
You can imagine: 99 percent of your experiments fail for one reason or another.
You cannot look at a person's genes and say with any accuracy whether they are from one racial group or another.
You can't have life without the genetic code. Life
You'd need a very specialized electron microscope to get down to the level to actually see a single strand of DNA.
Your age is your No. 1 risk factor for almost every disease, but it's not a disease itself.