Philip Green on Competition in Science
  Philip Green     Biography    
Recorded: 31 May 2003

In general, yes. I mean it does its’ downside in the sense that it frequently induces people to cut corners. However, and people may rush something into publication before it’s really ready; however, that kind of thing tends to get corrected. In general, competition, I feel, induces people to put more energy into their work, and its’ highly motivating in a lot of ways. It also inspires people to very critical of the work by others. If you are working on the same thing, you’re going to look very carefully at what someone else does and try to find if there’s anything wrong with it. If they do cut corners, you’re going to want to point that out. And so it inspires sort of a level of critical attention to discoveries that they might not otherwise get. So, I think that in many cases instances where results that have been published turned out to be wrong and it was not caught for a very long time, those were situations where there was really not much competition with other investigators. Because in a competitive field if someone publishes something that is incorrect, it’s usually found out pretty quickly.

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.