David Bentley on Mechanics of the HGP: 1986 Meeting at the Medical Research Council
  David Bentley     Biography    
Recorded: 14 May 2004

There was a very exciting meeting, I think it was ‘86 or sometime around then, which was actually just a one-day meeting held in the Medical Research Council in England. I was very lucky to be there. I was a young researcher in the field at the time and Sydney Brenner actually stood up, I think, and proposed that one could assemble genomes and overlapping cosmids. John Sulston also talked about the work they were already doing with the worm, which of course provided a perfect model. Indeed a model that stood the test of time.

That was an exciting meeting. It was only four or five hours long, and the ideas were really very open, not all together well formed. Some of the essential clarity of the idea of just taking and understanding a whole genome and particularly learning from the worm before the worm had actually achieved that goal. It was still very visionary, the whole field. It was not well formed, but very exciting to hear.

David Bentley, molecular biologist and geneticist, is currently Vice President and Chief Scientist of DNA Sequencing at Illumina, Inc., a commercial developer of genetic analysis tools and systems.

Educated at the University of Cambridge (M.A. in biochemistry) and the University of Oxford (Ph. D.), Dr. Bentley was a postdoctoral fellow, lecturer, and senior lecturer at Guy's and St. Thomas's Hospital in London from 1991 to 1993 where he studied mutations that cause genetic diseases, and a Senior Lecturer in the Division of Medical & Molecular Genetics at the University of London.

In 1993 he was brought to Sanger Centre (now known as Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute) as a founding member and head of human genetics by his mentor, John Sulston. Dr. Bentley led Sanger in their major contributions to the Human Genome Project, The Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNP) Consortium, and the International Haplotype Mapping (HapMap) Project. Dr. Bentley left Wellcome in 1985 to join commercial sequencer, Solexa, Inc., as Chief Scientist where he was responsible for the Company’s DNA sequencing applications development and projects. Solexa was acquired by Illumina in 2007.