Philip Green on Rich Roberts
  Philip Green     Biography    
Recorded: 31 May 2003

Okay, I don’t actually know Rich really well. I got to know him because we were both on the scientific advisory board of a company in Baltimore called Molecular Tool. And in my experience of the input that various of us scientists were providing to the company, he always seemed to have sort of the key insights that were probably the most useful to what people in the company needed.

I also got to know him somewhat because he organized; he’s had a long standing interest in science in Third World countries. And in particular, he organized a trip for a number of genome scientists to go to Pakistan. I believe it was the fall of ’96, but I’m not quite sure I remember the date exactly. That experience of visiting Pakistan, we had, I think, a one day symposium at an institute in Lahore that was organized by Dr. Riazaden who actually was a Pakistani scientist who had organized the visit. And then we spent some time visiting his institute. And he took us on a tour of parts of Pakistan and we went up to the northwest part of the country near the Afghanistan border, came back down and actually spent a day in Islamabad and met with the president of Pakistan and talked about science, amazingly enough. So, I got to know Rich a little bit on that trip, and was impressed by, you know his generosity and his dedication in developing the relations with the Pakistani scientists. I know several students from there did postdoctoral stints in his lab.

It was actually a very moving experience for me to see how the Pakistani scientists manage to do science and do very good science, excellent science, under what were really incredible obstacles. I mean, they could not order reagents, for example, from out of the country because they would come—the reagents that were ordered would sit in some customs office for a couple of weeks before being delivered so they would be degraded. So, they basically had to make all their own reagents and they did that routinely and still managed to do some very interesting science, particularly in plant biology, they developed some transgenic plants that would be quite useful, I think, if there weren’t obstacles in Europe and elsewhere to the use of transgenic organisms.

At any rate, Rich was sort of playing a key role, I think, in developing contacts between U.S. and Pakistani scientists, and I really admired him for that. I think it was a great thing to become involved in and there needs to be more of it.

Philip Green is a professor of genome sciences, an adjunct professor of the Computer Science and Engineering Department at the University of Washington, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, and was recently elected into the National Academy of Sciences.

Green designs software packages which aid in making genetic maps and identifying genes within the genome. He is concerned with constructing computational tools to understand cell functioning at a molecular level. Green has created the program Phred, which manages the data generated by the Human Genome Project and which is being used to help determine the most common variations in human DNA. Green’s laboratory is working to construct a gene-annotated genome sequence. His lab has modified the number of genes thought to be in the human genome—it is substantially fewer than had been previously believed.

Green spoke at the 68th Cold Spring Harbor Symposium focused on the Genome of Homo Sapiens.