Michael Ashburner on Whole Genome Shotgun Sequencing
  Michael Ashburner     Biography    
Recorded: 31 May 2003

There’s a huge amount of technical skepticism technically as to whether computationally the assembly could be done. And Gene Myers led that program in Celera to write the software assembly. It was Gene Myers, of course, who had first proposed in a paper in Genome Research a few years earlier that the whole genome shotgun could be useful for very big genomes. And Phil Green refereed that paper. And his referee comments were longer than the paper and they were actually published as a second paper. So it was back to back. The paper by Myers on the proposal of the whole genome shotgun sequence in a human, the next paper is a paper by Phil Green saying that it is impossible. And Phil was very, very bright, but he was wrong.

Michael Ashburner, a leader in Drosophila Genetics and bioinformatics, received his B.A. (1964), M.A. (1968), Ph.D. (1968) and Sc.D. (1978) from the University of Cambridge, where he is currently professor of Biology in the Department of Genetics and a Professional Fellow of Churchill College.

He has been the joint head of European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI), of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) and was co-founder of Flybase, the primary online database for Drosophila genetics and molecular biology, the Gene Ontology Consortium, an effort to coordinate biological databases through a defined taxonomy of gene function, and the Crete Meetings, a bi-annual event focusing on the developmental and molecular biology of Drosophila melanogaster.

Among many honors, he is the recipient of the G.J. Mendel Medal (Czech Republic 1998) and the George W. Beadle Medal (Genetics Society of America 1999).

Michael Ashburner