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Robert Edward Grant Think Tank

Think Tank: The Robert Edward Grant Podcast with J. Craig Venter, Ph.D.

Robert and Craig Venter dive into a conversation about the pioneering science of sequencing the human genome.


In this conversation, we delve into the extraordinary life of Dr. Craig Venter, a pioneering scientist renowned for his groundbreaking work sequencing the human genome and his inclusion among the world’s most influential people in 2010. Dr. Venter’s journey from nearly failing high school to serving as a medical corpsman in the Vietnam War underscores his early exposure to life’s precariousness, igniting his fervor for meaningful scientific exploration. His passion for surfing mirrors his approach to life and science—a relentless pursuit of the next wave of discovery characterized by a willingness to embrace risks.

Throughout our discussion, Dr. Venter candidly shares how his near-death experiences have profoundly shaped his outlook and professional trajectory. From navigating the challenges of his youth and serving in Vietnam to embodying an adventurous spirit as a surfer, his life story is a poignant testament to the power of resilience and the transformative impact of taking risks in pursuing knowledge. Dr. Venter’s narrative underscores the importance of perseverance and highlights how individual journeys can catalyze significant advancements in our understanding of the natural world.

About our featured guest:

J. Craig Venter, Ph.D., is a preeminent scientist known for his extensive contributions to genomic research. He is the founder, chairman, and CEO of the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI), dedicated to various genomic studies and exploring the ethical dimensions of genomics. His academic journey, marked by his service as a Navy Corpsman in Vietnam, led to significant roles in academia and groundbreaking developments in gene discovery at the National Institutes of Health.

Dr. Venter’s notable achievements include founding The Institute for Genomic Research and Celera Genomics, where his teams decoded the genome of Haemophilus influenzae and significantly contributed to sequencing the human genome. His work at JCVI continues to break new ground in genomic science, with major publications and advancements in environmental genomics and synthetic biology.

As a highly regarded scientist with over 280 research articles, Dr. Venter has received numerous awards, including the United States National Medal of Science. He is a member of prestigious scientific organizations and a successful entrepreneur, co-founding companies like Synthetic Genomics, Inc. and Human Longevity, Inc., demonstrating his enduring impact in the field of genomics.

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