George Church
Professor of Genetics, Harvard Medical School

Re: What inspires you?

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Church tries to avoid wasting any more of the world's 6 billion minds.

George Church

George Church is a professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School and a professor of health sciences and technology at Harvard and MIT. In 1984, Church, along with Walter Gilbert, developed the first direct genomic sequencing method and helped initiate the Human Genome Project. Church is responsible for inventing the concepts of molecular multiplexing and tags, homologous recombination methods, and DNA array synthesizers. Church initiated the Personal Genome Project in 2005 as well as research into synthetic biology. He is director of the U.S. Department of Energy Center on Bioenergy at Harvard and MIT and director of the National Institutes of Health Center of Excellence in Genomic Science at Harvard, MIT and Washington University. He is a senior editor for Nature EMBO Molecular Systems Biology.

Well I think my original inspiration came from just natural curiosity about science, and math, and biology. In particular, I would say that as I matured it became more a feeling of trying to avoid the waste that occurs in the world where we have 6.5 billion minds. If you’re a computer scientist, you can think of them as supercomputers. They’re awesome. But not all of them are really . . . have the luxury of being able to think deep thoughts all the time because they are dealing with malaria, starvation, or war, or things that are avoidable. And I think that that’s the passion that drives me. It’s to figure out ways that technology and outreach through education can bring health benefits to many people. And then they will perform . . . their performance, their ability to think clearly and contribute back will be enhanced, and then we can get this virtual cycle where they will be doing the sort of things that all my scientific colleagues and nonscientific colleagues do more effectively. Recorded on: 7/6/07