Leroy Hood on What Is It to Be a Scientist?
  Leroy Hood     Biography    
Recorded: 01 Jun 2003

I think basically to be a scientist is to be internally curious. I think it’s—and to be curious in a deep sense. Not to be satisfied with a superficial explanation. And I think for me to be a scientist is—there really were two other things. I mean this came from my Ph.D. advisor who was also at Caltech. I went to medical school after my undergraduate years at Hopkins and then I went back to Caltech as a grad student. And my advisor really taught me two things that were the bulwarks of how I do my science; one is practice it at the leading edge, always be on the frontiers doing exciting things; and the second is, if you really want to change a discipline invent a new technology that will let you decipher biological information more effectively. So those have been the cornerstones of my career.

Leroy Hood, a leading scientist in molecular biotechnology and genomics, received his M.D. from Johns Hopkins Medical School (1964) and his Ph.D. in biochemistry from Caltech (1968). In 1992, after more than 20 years as a faculty member at Caltech, where he and his colleagues revolutionized genomics by developing automated DNA sequencing, he relocated to the University of Washington to establish the cross-disciplinary Department of Molecular Biotechnology.

Dr. Hood is currently President of the Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle where he leads efforts to pioneer systems approaches to biology and medicine. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and has received the Lasker Award for his studies on the mechanism of immune diversity.

Sharing an interest in the study of antibody diversity, Hood and Watson met in 1967 when Hood attended his first meeting at CSHL. Leroy has been working on the genome since the late 70’s. He went to the first official genome meeting in Santa Cruz in 1985 and has attended all of the subsequent meetings which have been held at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.

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