Recorded: 14 May 2004
I think that we should be grateful for the ways things have unfolded because, in fact, we have this very healthy tension between profiteering and biotechnology and free public data release. So on the one hand we have this flood of data that anybody can get to, on the other hand we have some very successful biotechnology enterprises. If things had gone one way or the other, that is, if there was no ability to patent we’d be in trouble, because there would be no focused profiteering biotechnology. We wouldn’t see the development, if the genome sequence was patented and locked up, we wouldn’t see any development, because nobody could get at it. So I think the system is actually working. I think it’s not too bad. I mean, it’s not perfect, but it’s not too bad.
Richard A. Gibbs is currently the Director of the Human Genome Sequencing Center at Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) and the Wofford Cain Professor in the Department of Molecular and Human Genetics. He received a B.Sc. (Hons) in 1979 and a Ph.D. in Genetics and Radiation Biology in 1985 at the University of Melbourne in Australia. In 1990 he completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Houston’s Baylor College of Medicine, studying the molecular basis of human X-linked diseases and developing technologies for rapid genetic analysis. He developed several fundamental technologies for nucleic acid analysis. In 1991, he joined the BCM faculty and played a key role in the early planning and development phases of the Human Genome Project. In 1996, he established the BCM Human Genome Sequencing Center when Baylor was chosen as one of six programs to complete the final phase of the Human Genome Project. Dr. Gibbs has also made significant contributions to the deciphering of the fly, mouse, dictyostelium, and rat genomes. Among the numerous awards and honors received by Dr. Gibbs, he was awarded the Michael E. DeBakey, M.D., Excellence in Research Award in 2000.