Ari Patrinos on Jim Watson and the HGP
  Ari Patrinos     Biography    
Recorded: 03 Mar 2006

When I became the director of the program, the D.O.E. genome program, Jim Watson had already departed from NIH. So, you know, my counterpart at NIH at the time was Francis Collins. But Jim Watson was always in the background and he attended a lot of the meetings. He always had some choice words about D.O.E. Although at the end, you know, I remember he ended up quite praising of our effort in creating the Joint Genome Institute and melding the three major genome centers that we had and doing our part in sequencing, you know, the piece of the Human Genome Project that we did, of the human genome that we indeed did sequence, Chromosomes 5, 16, and 19. I feel good in a sense that even though Jim Watson may not have had necessarily very many fond feelings for the D.O.E. and the D.O.E. laboratories, I think in the end he was convinced, and I remember him telling me how he was pleasantly surprised by how well the D.O.E. did in the end. I think he realized for example that the “can do” attitude that the D.O.E. labs can bring to the table; the ability to put large teams together, to use high performance computing, you know, added a significant value to the project. And the JGI, I mean, to toot our own horn now even though I’m no longer with D.O.E. I have a lot of fond feelings and a lot of loyalty to our colleagues in the Joint Genome Institute. And I think they’ve performed marvelously. And now even beyond the Human Genome Project are doing a very significant job, perhaps unique in the world in terms of focusing the large sequencing muscle that they have on organisms other than the ones that are important for medicine. You know, so they’re sequencing a lot of the microbes now. They are sequencing a lot of the plants that are used for biomass. So they’re serving tremendous value for the part of biology that is different from the biology that serves human health and medicine.

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.