Robert Waterston on Dangers of Genomic Research
  Robert Waterston     Biography    
Recorded: 01 Jun 2003

There are lots of dangers because, you know, this is—there are the dangers of eugenics kind of things; that governments can try and use the information to control people’s reproductive choice in one way or another. There’s another more parochial danger at the moment to science because we’ve promised so much that if we don’t—if we as a group of scientists, if we as individuals don’t actually start to make something happen it will have a backlash. My hope is—my expectation is that actually there will continue to be enough stuff coming through to make it good. But obviously the major challenges are misuse of the information on the part of governments.

Robert Waterston received his bachelor's degree in engineering from Princeton University (1965) and both an M.D. and a Ph.D. in pathology from the University of Chicago (1972). After a postdoctoral fellowship at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, he joined the Washington University faculty in 1976 where he is the James S. McDonnel Professor of Genetics, head of the Department of Genetics, and director of the School of Medicine’s Genome Sequencing Center, which he founded in 1993. In early 2003 Dr Waterston took on the role of Chair of the department of Genome Sciences at the University of Washington. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, was a recipient of the International Gairdner Award, the Genetics Society of America’s Beadle Award, the Dan David Prize, and the Alfred P. Sloan Award from the GM Cancer Research Foundation.

Waterston attended the worm meetings at Cold Spring Harbor Lab and in 1989 Watson supported Waterston’s proposal to use the worm as a model organism in the Human Genome Project.