Ari Patrinos on Opposition from Radiation Biologists
  Ari Patrinos     Biography    
Recorded: 03 Mar 2006

They were involved. I think they were—there may have been some skepticism on the part of some of them. But I don’t remember any significant opposition. I think they quickly realized the potential. They quickly realized the opportunity and I think the opportunity was much more obvious to them than the threat to their little fiefdom or to their little activity. You have to realize that when that idea was proposed, it was a challenge more to the other sciences within the Office of Energy Research than to the biologists involved in radiation biology whether it was mice or others because it represented in some way an entry into the big time science, that they could not help but feel a little threatened if they were high-energy physicists or nuclear physicists who had been used to having the biologists command limited resources. You know, just give them a few million dollars and a couple of laboratories, you know, and set aside the billions for the big toys that we want as physical scientists. So here all of a sudden were the biologists saying, you know, we want to enter that big time as well. And we’re not talking millions of dollars; we’re talking billions of dollars. We are talking about big teams and eventually technology development, you know. So the prescient of the physicists could see some of the early alarming signs. Some of them fought it. Some of them actually joined the other side, joined our side. Some of the early champions, as you know, of the Human Genome Project and some of the principals really were ones that crossed over from the physical sciences and have done very well.

Ari Patrinos, currently is a president of Synthetic Genomics, Inc. He is best known for his leading roles in the development of the U.S. Global Change Research Program and the U.S. Human Genome Project. He earned his undergraduate degree from the National Technical University of Athens and Ph.D. in mechanical engineering and astronautical sciences from Northwestern University.

Patrinos has worked in Department of Energy (DOE) Laboratory system since 1973. His research area includes biomedical engineering, atmospheric turbulence, environmental chemistry, climate change, and statistical methods. In 1995 he became the Associate Director for Biological and Environmental Research in the DOE Office of Science and was responsible for human and microbial genome programs, structural biology, nuclear medicine and health effects, global environmental change. He helped create the DOE's Joint Genome Institute (JGI) in 1997 and developed the DOE's Genomes to Life Program.

He is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the American Geophysical Union, and a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society.