On January 24, 2017, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) announced that Leroy E. Hood, M.D., Ph.D., President and Co-Founder, Institute for Systems Biology, Senior Vice President and Chief Science Officer, Providence St. Joseph Health, will receive the prestigious 2017 NAS Award for Chemistry in Service to Society. Dr. Hood is a biotech visionary who has revolutionized biology and medicine in a career that spans five decades. Among his many accomplishments, Hood invented, commercialized, and developed multiple chemical tools that address biological complexity, including the automated DNA sequencer which spearheaded the Human Genome Project. Dr. Hood’s earlier research work at Caltech led to the development of four DNA and protein sequencers and synthesizers, all of which became core instruments for contemporary molecular biology. Later, Dr. Hood’s lab developed the ink-jet oligonucleotide synthesizer, a core technology for DNA chip synthesis and large-scale DNA synthesis, and the first instrument capable of global single-molecule analysis of DNA and RNA molecules. Beyond these innovations, Dr. Hood shepherded a cross-disciplinary approach to chemistry and biology, which led to the establishment of the Science and Technology Center for Molecular Biotechnology through the National Science Foundation, as well as the creation of the first cross-disciplinary department of biology, the Department of Molecular Biotechnology (MBT) at the University of Washington, Seattle, efforts which have influenced everything from academic research to K-12 STEM education. Dr. Hood was an early proponent and advocate for the Human Genome Project, and directed the Human Genome Center’s sequencing of portions of human chromosomes 14 and 15.
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