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Celera exec discusses genome project, April 17

Venter, the scientist-entrepreneur who led the private effort to sequence the human genome, will present a public lecture at 8 p.m. Tuesday, April 17, in Helm Auditorium, McCosh 50.

Venter, whose talk is titled "Sequencing the Human Genome," is president and chief scientific officer of the Celera Genomics Corp., which established itself as a competitor to the international, publicly financed sequencing program.

In 1990, scientists began an organized effort to map the sequence of chemical units that make up human DNA. The effort was led by a consortium of academic centers and was financed for the most part by the National Institutes of Health and the Wellcome Trust of England.

In 1998, Venter announced that Celera would sequence the genome by 2000, five years sooner than the public consortium's goal of 2005. That initiative greatly accelerated the process, which culminated with a joint announcement by both groups on June 26, 2000, that the sequencing was complete. The groups published their findings -- the results of analyzing 3.12 billion chemical units -- in the journals Science and Nature in February.

Between 1984 and 1992, Venter was a section and lab chief in the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke at the National Institutes of Health. In 1990, he developed "expressed sequence tags" (ESTs), a new strategy for gene discovery that has revolutionized the biological sciences. Venter left the NIH in 1992 and founded The Institute for Genomic Research, a not-for-profit genomics research institution. He formed Celera in 1998 in collaboration with the Perkin Elmer Corp., a scientific instrumentation company.

Venter's lecture is sponsored by the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

Contact: Marilyn Marks (609) 258-3601

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