Ari Patrinos on Gene Patenting
  Ari Patrinos     Biography    
Recorded: 03 Mar 2006

I don’t think that individual genes can be patented. I think the notion of a patent is a very sensible one. It goes back to the birth of our country, you know, with Benjamin Franklin and it has certain criteria about novelty and about usefulness and, you know, all those—I’m not a lawyer, but you know every now and then I go to visit the textbooks so that, you know, I can be sufficiently informed. I didn’t do that today so I don’t remember all—I mean there is novelty and there’s utility and there’s whatever these other terms are. So in my simple mind a gene cannot be patented, but a function that you invent for a specific gene can. I mean, if you identify the gene, the whole gene. If you explain what it does and if you propose a specific application that has a benefit, you know, then you can patent that whole thing. I mean it’s your creation. I mean the gene is not what you’ve patented. You’ve patented the usefulness or the application of the information that is embedded in the gene.

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.