David Bentley on Becoming a Scientist
  David Bentley     Biography    
Recorded: 14 May 2004

I’m David Bentley and I’m Head of Human Genetics at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, started after the Sanger Center, a new center to develop a program in genome research. I started out studying biochemistry and very rapidly moved into the practical aspects of working with DNA. I gained some knowledge of proteins through spending time with Rob Porter before moving to a clinical center and working in Guys Hospital in London, which really opened my eyes to clinical applications and the importance of genetics in society and human health.

I was inspired by science at an early age. My mother taught biology and she inspired my interest in biology. She also herself was very inspired at Cambridge by the molecular biologists of the time and certainly encouraged me very early on to be excited by the molecular aspects. The DNA structure, protein structures, they were all coming out at the time. I was very fortunate. It was very exciting to follow her own childhood and young adulthood and excitement in biology. It was a very simple mother to son transition.

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.

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