The Caroline Werner Gannett Project 2007-08
Leroy Hood

Leroy Hood, M.D., PhD

World pioneer in molecular biotechnology and genomics; founder, Institute for Systems Biology


“Systems Biology and Systems Medicine”

When: Thursday, April 23, 2009 at 4:00 p.m.
Where: 08-1250
(Gosnell, College of Science)

Leroy Hood, MD, Ph.D., at RIT on April 23, 2009

Talk Description: The challenge for biology in the 21st century is the need to deal with its incredible complexity. One powerful way to think of biology is to view it as an informational science. This view leads to the conclusion that biological information is captured, mined, integrated and finally executed by biological networks. Hence the challenge in understanding biological complexity is that of deciphering the operation of dynamic biological networks across the three time scales of life—evolution, development and physiological responses. Systems approaches to biology are focused on delineating and deciphering dynamic biological networks. I will outline the contemporary state of systems biology and then focus on its application to disease. It appears that systems medicine, together with pioneering changes in DNA sequencing and blood protein measurements (nanotechnology) and well as the development of powerful new computational and mathematical tools will transform medicine over the next 5-20 years from its currently reactive state to a mode that is predictive, personalized, preventive and participatory. This will in turn lead to the digitalization of medicine—with a profound future change in the delivery of health care.

Dr. Leroy Hood is a physician with an M.D. from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and a molecular immunologist with a Ph.D. from Caltech. Through his work on molecular immunology, biotechnology and genomics, he pioneered the development of the automated DNA sequencer and DNA synthesizer, as well as the protein sequencer and protein synthesizer. His work has revolutionized genomics, enabling scientists to sequence DNA rapidly and inexpensively, thereby making impactful contributions to the sequencing of the human and all other genomes.

Dr. Hood moved to the University of Washington in 1992 to found and chair the Department of Molecular Biotechnology and, in 2000, the Institute for Systems Biology His numerous awards include the 1987 Lasker Award; the 2002 Kyoto Prize in Advanced Technologies; the 2003 Association for Molecular Pathology Award for Excellence in Molecular Diagnostics; the 2003 Lemelson-MIT Prize; the 2004 Biotechnology Heritage Award and the 2006 Heinz Award in Technology, the Economy and Employment. In 2007 Dr. Hood was elected to the Inventors Hall of Fame for his work with automated DNA sequencing. During his career he has published more than 600 peer reviewed papers, coauthored textbooks in biochemistry, molecular biology, genetics and systems biology, plus a popular book about the human genome project entitled The Code of Codes. As one of only 7 individuals, out of 6,000, who is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering and the Institute of Medicine, Dr. Hood has founded more than 14 biotechnology companies. His current pathbreaking work forges new ground in systems medicine and in applying the systems approach to human disease.

October 2007 – Leroy Hood was listed as one of The 10 Hottest Nerds in Newsweek and answered the question of where the biological sciences are headed in the future, making the point that biology will be the dominant science in the 21st century. Another transformation will be in single-cell analysis and the ability to read the biological information of the DNA, RNA and proteins inside a cell. – Newsweek

Links: The Code of Codes