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Jeff Schloss, NHGRI's Catalyst for DNA Sequencing Technology Development, Retires

February 7, 2017

On December 31, NHGRI said goodbye to its founding Director of the Division of Genome Sciences in the Extramural Research Program, Dr. Jeffery Schloss. After a truly remarkable career that included leading NHGRI's DNA sequencing technology development program, Jeff is embarking on a well-deserved journey into retirement.

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Originally trained and working in the field of regulation of mRNA abundance control and mammalian non-muscle cell motility, Jeff was recruited from the University of Kentucky to the National Center for Human Genome Research in 1992. He joined the team managing the large NHGRI-funded genome centers, groups that were then involved in constructing genetic and physical maps of human and model organism genomes. At the time of his recruitment, he considered himself a cell biologist, and thought that the move to genomics and to extramural administration/management would be a stretch. Little did he realize how well he would flourish in his new role!


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In 1996, Jeff was asked to take on the leadership of the DNA sequencing technology development efforts in the NHGRI Extramural Research Program. Since then, he has skillfully managed a diverse portfolio of grants involved in developing a range of nucleic acids-related technologies - in particular, DNA sequencing technology and the well-known $1,000 Genome Program.

The $1,000 Genome Program has made seminal contributions to the nearly million-fold reduction in DNA sequencing costs that has occurred over the past ~15 years, helping to catalyze the growth of an entire industry built around genome sequencing (including for clinical diagnostics). This ground-breaking program is certainly one of the most successful technology development programs in the history of NIH, much to the credit of Jeff's outstanding leadership. In addition to his technology development portfolio, Jeff also worked on the Human Microbiome Program and coordinated the Centers of Excellence in Genomic Science program.

Jeff's contributions to science have been appropriately recognized across the NIH, including by Dr. Elias Zerhouni, the former NIH Director. At the start of the NIH Roadmap (now Common Fund) program, Dr. Zerhouni asked Jeff to serve as one of two co-chairs for the Nanomedicine Working Group; Jeff was the only working group co-chair who was not an Institute/Center Director. Using this and other trans-NIH and trans-Federal opportunities, Jeff promoted interdisciplinary research. He was a founding member and chair of the NIH Bioengineering Consortium (BECON); co-chaired the trans-NIH Nanotechnology Task Force; and served as an NIH representative to the federal working group for the National Nanotechnology Initiative.

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Jeff's myriad accomplishments at NHGRI and NIH have also been recognized by many deserving awards. He received an NHGRI Individual Merit award ten times, the NIH Director's Award six times, and Finalist status for a 2012 Service to America Award (SAMMIE) given by the Partnership for Public service. In 2015, he fittingly received a Health and Human Services (HHS) Career Achievement Award.

Jeff's intellect, leadership, dedication, and contributions have created a lasting legacy that have profoundly benefited NHGRI and the entire field of genomics. His presence will be missed around NIH and in the extramural genomics community. We wish him all the best with his new adventures in retirement!

Posted: February 7, 2017

See Also:

January Genomics LandscapePDF file