David Cox on Suprises in the HGP
  David Cox     Biography    
Recorded: 02 Jun 2003

So when we started and this is the—when we started our center it was at that time when that the first—the view was and in retrospect as we learned more it probably wasn’t necessary but in as a severe way as we thought, but earlier on we and everybody else thought if you didn’t have a really good roadmap of the genome, of the different pieces, you would never be able to get the sequence done. So that’s one of the things that we really wanted to play an important role in. And we used this technology of radiation hybrid mapping as one approach. My colleague Rick Myers was using BAC mapping also, but it turned out for our centers that the radiation hybrid mapping was really important. That we sort of—just on chromosome 4 showing that we could do that on one chromosome and then when that seemed like it worked then we expanded our center to make a radiation hybrid map of the entire genome. And we made the reagents and made the map but more importantly and what was really rewarding is that not just our center but that those reagents got spread around to a variety of centers. So that that technology was used by everybody. Which was really rewarding. And then that it wasn’t the only mapping technology though it fit in with everybody’s technologies that we then made another high resolution set of hybrids which we used for the mapping and that when the sequence came along we could use the mapping to really check and see the accuracy and completeness of the sequencing. So what happened over time is that new technologies came up. We had better ways of doing the sequencing. But it was very rewarding to have contributed sort of this glue in the middle that basically allowed the new technologies to come in and for us to do it better ways. So that it was a real classic situation where you know you are driving down the road with one head light on. And you know you’re on the right road. But that you’re not actually sure you’re going to get to the end. And it was as a result of always bringing in new and better approaches that got us there. But it was really hard in that no one was ever sure actually until the very end that I think the finished sequence would be as good as it is today.

David Cox received B.A. and M.S. degrees from Brown University and M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Washington. From 1980 to 1993, Dr. Cox held faculty positions in the Departments of Pediatrics, Biochemistry and Psychiatry at the University of California San Francisco. In 1993, he became Professor of Genetics and Pediatrics at the Stanford University School of Medicine as well as the Co-director of the Stanford Genome Center.

Dr Cox was a co-founder of Perlegen, and has been Chief Scientific Officer of the Company since its formation in 2001. He has served on several international and national councils and commissions including the Council of the Human Genome Organization (HUGO) and the National Bioethics Advisory Commission (NBAC). He presently serves as a member of the Health Sciences Policy Board of the Institute of Medicine. Dr Cox's honors include election to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.

Cox was a member of one of the first groups to begin sequencing the human genome. His relationship with Watson developed from his interest in Cox’s innovative approach to sequencing, called radiation hybrid mapping.

He attended the 68th Cold Spring Harbor symposium to celebrate the completion of the rough draft of the human sequence.