David Botstein on Scientific Publishing & the HGP
  David Botstein     Biography    
Recorded: 28 May 2003

I don’t think that the genome project per se has had all that much of an effect on publication methods. I think, rather, the other way around. Issues about publication practice have sort of pushed the genome. And the competition for publication and the issues around publication have been a driving force for many of the people who are working on the genome, and did have a lot to do with the competition around the genome. That said, one of the really important precedents that the genome set and one of the things that I think is going to be the most lasting is the idea that when you have a large volume data like the genome you make it publicly available from the beginning. And that wasn’t the case when, for example, crystallographers were making the first crystal structures over very many years, the crystallographers came to understand that the crystal structures were nearly useless unless the coordinates were also generally available. And I think that that experience informed the genome more than the other way around. So the issue of very large data sets on which computation has to be done in order for them to be comprehensible. That includes the genome and the crystallography. Crystallographers were first and they faced the problem first. And they came out with the right answer first.

David Botstein is a prominent geneticist whose advocacy for gene mapping was crucial in laying the groundwork for the Human Genome Project. Botstein received his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan for his research on bacteriophage synthesis. As a member of the MIT faculty he continued working with phage P22 DNA and discovered many bacterial and yeast genes. He served as Vice President of Science at Genentech before becoming professor at the Stanford School of Medicine where he led in sequencing the first large eucaryotic genome.

On July 1, 2003 he was appointed as Director of the Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics at Princeton University. At Princeton he will continue to expound upon genome projects, explore the relationship between genes within the genome, and uncover how diseases like cancer alter the expression of genes.

Botstein researched at the CSHL while on sabbatical from 1974-1975. At the 1986 CSHL symposium on Human Genetics he played a crucial role in advocating for the Human Genome Project. While serving on the National Research Council Committee he emphasized that money be laid aside to fund the sequencing of other simpler organisms with which the human genome can be compared. Like Jim Watson, he has passionately supported the Human Genome Project since its inception.