James Kent on Gene Patenting
  James Kent     Biography    
Recorded: 31 May 2003

Well, I have some mixed feelings about this. But back in the old days when it was two years to figure out where one gene, I could accept it. But then it got to the point where we people were just mass producing these ESTs and all they were doing is basically they were spending more time filing the patent than actually doing the research. And that just seemed absurd. And this was still going on at this time. And we were afraid that basically then there would be this patent rush, and it would slow down the research. But, curiously, it would not slow down the academic research do much because academic research is kind of immune from patent stuff, but it would slow down the private research. And so in a way the work was to protect private industry. I mean, we did end up—I mean what we did was not good for the Celera stock holders. It was not good for the double twist things, but I think in the long run, it was good for the private industry. And for the academics it may be this way or that.

Jim Kent is a research scientist at the University of California, Santa Cruz's Center for Biomolecular Science and Engineering. After a stint working in the computer animation industry, he entered the Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology Ph.D. program at Santa Cruz. While completing his degree, he became increasingly interested in bioinformatics. Concurrently, the human genome was being sequenced, accumulating in the databases and was scheduled to be released in one month’s time—however, still no technology was in place to assemble its many sequences. In one month, Jim Kent created a computer program called the GigAssembler and computationally compiled for the first time, the entire human genome so that it could be released to the public at its intended deadline.

Jim Kent focuses on understanding the way in which genes are turned on and off to create varying outcomes.