Leroy Hood on Competition in Science
  Leroy Hood     Biography    
Recorded: 29 May 2003

You know, I’ve always viewed science as an avocation and something that you really have to love and enjoy doing. I mean we work pretty long hours and pretty hard hours. And my experience in science is I’ve—I’ve had incredible students. I’ve had incredible colleagues. And, yeah, it’s competitive. But for me that’s always been a really very minor part of what science is about. If you ask me what my dominant feelings were about science. What are the—and you give a list of things that my reactions to science as a profession everything, I think I’d put the competitiveness quite far down on the list. But I will say I’m a lot older than most of the others I suspect that you’re interviewing. And I came up in a time when many—when science was far less competitive than it is today. There just weren’t as many people in science. So you can argue that maybe I don’t see it from the point of view of a young assistant professor going out today and worrying about grants and funding and where they’re going to go. And can they do big, daring things or do they have to do simple, small straightforward things that the NIH [National Institutes of Health] will fund.

Leroy Hood, a leading scientist in molecular biotechnology and genomics, received his M.D. from Johns Hopkins Medical School (1964) and his Ph.D. in biochemistry from Caltech (1968). In 1992, after more than 20 years as a faculty member at Caltech, where he and his colleagues revolutionized genomics by developing automated DNA sequencing, he relocated to the University of Washington to establish the cross-disciplinary Department of Molecular Biotechnology.

Dr. Hood is currently President of the Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle where he leads efforts to pioneer systems approaches to biology and medicine. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and has received the Lasker Award for his studies on the mechanism of immune diversity.

Sharing an interest in the study of antibody diversity, Hood and Watson met in 1967 when Hood attended his first meeting at CSHL. Leroy has been working on the genome since the late 70’s. He went to the first official genome meeting in Santa Cruz in 1985 and has attended all of the subsequent meetings which have been held at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.