Recorded: 14 May 2004
I am directly working with the genome about eighteen to twenty years. Before that, probably for a few years, the projects that I was doing certainly involved a genomic aspect, though it wasn’t really called that at the time, certainly from the very beginning, being involved in genes and involved in immunity. Actually the professor—this was Rob Porter, who was very interested in the fact that we might actually manage to join these genes up and find out where they lay on the chromosomes—on the part of chromosome 6—which at the time was a complete unknown. It was a problem that didn’t even seem necessarily easy to picture, whether it would take a month or ten years. To our enormous surprise, shortly after cloning the three relevant genes there, within two months, we joined them up on a single segment of DNA. That was really my first exposure to mapping and one of the very early formations of an overlap between two segments of a genome to form a contiguous picture, which previously had not been known. I don’t think I fully realized the ignorance of not knowing or the frustration of not knowing it in the way that my predecessors had not known this for all of their careers.
David Bentley, molecular biologist and geneticist, is currently Vice President and Chief Scientist of DNA Sequencing at Illumina, Inc., a commercial developer of genetic analysis tools and systems.
Educated at the University of Cambridge (M.A. in biochemistry) and the University of Oxford (Ph. D.), Dr. Bentley was a postdoctoral fellow, lecturer, and senior lecturer at Guy's and St. Thomas's Hospital in London from 1991 to 1993 where he studied mutations that cause genetic diseases, and a Senior Lecturer in the Division of Medical & Molecular Genetics at the University of London.
In 1993 he was brought to Sanger Centre (now known as Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute) as a founding member and head of human genetics by his mentor, John Sulston. Dr. Bentley led Sanger in their major contributions to the Human Genome Project, The Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNP) Consortium, and the International Haplotype Mapping (HapMap) Project. Dr. Bentley left Wellcome in 1985 to join commercial sequencer, Solexa, Inc., as Chief Scientist where he was responsible for the Company’s DNA sequencing applications development and projects. Solexa was acquired by Illumina in 2007.