Eric Green on Career Satisfaction
  Eric Green     Biography    
Recorded: 30 May 2003

I’m not sure I could pin that on any one thing. You know, my approach in genomics and in my research career has been to carry on a research program that attempted to never allow itself to get so large that I had major, overwhelming responsibilities to run something of the scale of one of these very large sequencing centers that was heavily responsible for extremely large production targets. Rather the characteristic of what I’ve done, and maybe this is what I’m most proud of is because I have been able to sustain it, is to try to explore sort of at the cutting edge of activities as the progression took place; having the genome mapped and then sequenced. And I think I still do that at the present time.

For example, when I was a postdoc; the cutting edge at that time was using YACs to build maps of human chromosomes. I picked one human chromosome and to this day, I’m still spending a lot of time studying it. But at that time I was heavily involved. I built a YAC map of a human chromosome. Attempts were made to get me to build other chromosome maps. I refused. I was then interested in helping to build maps that would facilitate sequencing of the chromosome I wanted to study, staying very focused, going to the cutting edge of that time; building BAC (Bacterial Artificial Chromosome) maps, helping get those clones and those maps to the sequencing groups, having them do the sequencing then I had to go [say], “what was the next frontier?” The next frontier was building comparable maps and developing reagents to sequence the corresponding regions in other genomes. First; mouse, so heavily involved in building clone maps of the mouse genome that correspond to the region of the human genome that I had studied. And then I got involved at that time building my own sequencing group, started sequencing some of those clones and now the project that I’m at the, you know, I am having an unbelievably gratifying time doing a project which I’ll describe in a talk later in this meeting to basically not just concentrate on one or two different vertebrate sequences to compare to the human, but do it very deep in evolution and specially, we’re now sequencing a series of regions of the human genome, but we’re sequencing the corresponding regions in about 24 other vertebrate species. To do very evolutionarily deep comparative sequence analysis.

And meanwhile along the way and especially over the past five years, we took advantage of this wonderful new set of fruits of the genome project, especially corresponding to a sequence of the chromosome we had been studying to identify a handful of genes that were associated with diseases. And so we got involved in studying those diseases because we were studying that part of the genome. So I think that probably, the thing that I found most gratifying is the ability to consistently be at the new frontier of genomics at each stage, be it mapping, sequencing, disease identification, comparative genomics and now using comparative genomics to try to interpret the human sequence. And so I think its’ been that diversity that’s been very gratifying.

Eric Green received his B.S. from the University of Wisconsin (1981) and his M.D. and Ph.D. from Washington University School of Medicine (1987). During his residency training in clinical pathology, he worked Maynard Olson’s lab, where he developed approaches for utilizing yeast artificial chromosomes (YACs) to construct physical maps of DNA. His work also included initiation of a project to construct a complete physical map of human chromosome 7.

In 1992, he became an assistant professor of pathology, genetics, and medicine as well as a co-investigator in the Human Genome Center at Washington University. In 1994, he moved his research laboratory to the intramural program of the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) at the National Institutes of Health. In November, 2009 he was appointed Director of NHGRI, after serving in the roles of NHGRI scientific director, director of NHGRI Division of Intramural Research, Chief of the Genome Technology Branch and that branches Physical Mapping Section, and Director of the NIH Intramural Sequencing Center (NISC). His lab’s current focus is on the application of large-scale DNA to study problems in human genomics, genetics, and biology.

Among the numerous awards Eric Green has received are induction into the American Society for Clinical Investigation in 2002 and into the America Association of Physicians in 2007. He is a founding editor of Genome Research, has edited the series, Genome Analysis: A Laboratory Manual, and, since 2005, is co-editor of the Annual Review of Genomics and Human Genetics.