Robert Waterston on Science & Spirituality
  Robert Waterston     Biography    
Recorded: 01 Jun 2003

There are religious people who are scientist and so it clearly can go on in parallel. I think that the—the scientists that I know who are religious are less fanatical in their emotional beliefs or whatever. They’re more constrained which is comforting. I think that some of the most fanatical things do depend on a lack of understanding and it’s not just understanding science, it’s understanding of others. You have, you know, you have to yourself off to have the kind of certainty—the kind of fanatical certainty that you’re right. I don’t know how people can do that when there’s so many smart people in the world who think differently.

Robert Waterston received his bachelor's degree in engineering from Princeton University (1965) and both an M.D. and a Ph.D. in pathology from the University of Chicago (1972). After a postdoctoral fellowship at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, he joined the Washington University faculty in 1976 where he is the James S. McDonnel Professor of Genetics, head of the Department of Genetics, and director of the School of Medicine’s Genome Sequencing Center, which he founded in 1993. In early 2003 Dr Waterston took on the role of Chair of the department of Genome Sciences at the University of Washington. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, was a recipient of the International Gairdner Award, the Genetics Society of America’s Beadle Award, the Dan David Prize, and the Alfred P. Sloan Award from the GM Cancer Research Foundation.

Waterston attended the worm meetings at Cold Spring Harbor Lab and in 1989 Watson supported Waterston’s proposal to use the worm as a model organism in the Human Genome Project.

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