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NHGRI's Oral History Collection

NHGRI's Oral History Collection features discussions with influential figures in the field of genomics and the history of institute.

Intended for researchers and scholars, each oral history video contains extensive conversation about science and medicine, biographical details and insights into the inner workings of institutions and initiatives.

For more information, visit NHGRI's History of Genomics Program.

 

September 20, 2017

Interview with Michael Gottesman

Michael Gottesman, M.D.'s resume includes the often-unacknowledged position he held from 1992-1993: acting director of the National Center for Human Genome Research (NCHGR).  Originally skeptical of the Human Genome Project, his reputation as a cell geneticist with big picture perspective landed him the job. 

Currently, he is the deputy director for Intramural Research at the National Institutes of Health, as well as chief of the Laboratory of Cell Biology at the National Cancer Institute.

In this oral history, Dr. Gottesman chronicles a tumultuous time at NCHGR (now called the National Human Genome Research Institute) from a multi-faceted perspective: clinician, researcher, and administrator.

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July 26, 2017

Interview with George Church

George Church, Ph.D. had unconventional beginnings, publishing five papers on x-ray crystallography of tRNA - or transfer RNA, a small type of RNA molecule that helps decode the DNA sequence into a protein - while flunking out of graduate school at Duke University.

Changing schools, he successfully finished his doctoral work at Harvard University and is now regarded as one of the leading innovators of the Human Genome Project.

He currently works on the cutting edge of contemporary genetic investigation as professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Church's oral history is essentially a history of DNA sequencing technology with vital insights into what the future may hold.

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June 20, 2017

Interview with Maximilian Muenke

Max Muenke, M.D. joined the National Human Genome Research Institute's Division of Intramural Research in 1997 as head of the Human Development Section and has been chief of the Medical Genetics Branch since 2000.

Chronicling his career through 2016, this oral history follows Dr. Muenke from his childhood year in a hospital with polio, to his work in pediatrics and genetics at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania, to his most recent work in identifying the genetic variants that make people more susceptible for developing attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

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May 30, 2017

Interview with Jeffery Schloss

Jeff Schloss, Ph.D. is the founding director of the Division of Genome Sciences of the Extramural Research Program at the National Human Genome Research Institute. He retired in early 2017 after 24 years with the institute.  He 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.

This oral history follows him from his post-doctoral work in a Yale University microscopy lab studying nucleic acids to meeting NHGRI program director Dr. Jane Peterson at a cell and biology meeting, where she recruited him to come to work at NHGRI.  Dr. Schloss compares the research and development efforts of NHGRI and the biotech world, and discusses the consequences of the draft sequence quality standard.

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May 9, 2017

Interview with Elke Jodan

Elke Jordan, Ph.D. was Deputy Director at the National Human Genome Research Institute from 1988-2002, almost the entirety of the Human Genome Project.  

Dr. Jordan's invaluable oral history documents significant turning points in the project's story including the strategic establishment of the Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications (ELSI) research program, and the rise of Celera, the company that spurred the race to complete the first human genome sequence. 

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March 29, 2017

Interview with Current and Former Directors - Part I

In 2014 and 2015, the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) filmed a panel discussion with former directors James Watson, Ph.D. and Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., and current director Eric Green, M.D., Ph.D. This invaluable footage animates the roots and growth of NHGRI, as well as the Human Genome Project, from the perspectives of three key figures.

Part I of this footage features all three directors discussing the early days of the institute, from the appointments of Drs. Watson and Collins, to the Human Genome Project. 

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Interview with Current and Former Directors - Part II

In 2014 and 2015, the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) filmed a panel discussion with former directors James Watson, Ph.D. and Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., and  current director Eric Green, M.D., Ph.D. This invaluable footage animates the roots and growth of NHGRI, as well as the Human Genome Project, from the perspectives of three key figures.

Part II of this footage features Drs. Collins and Green discussing NHGRI's initiatives since the completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003, including the ENCyclopedia Of DNa Elements (ENCODE) Project, the International HapMap Project, and the 1000 Genomes Project.
 

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Interview with Charles Rotimi

For more than two decades, Charles Rotimi, Ph.D., chief of the Metabolic, Cardiovascular and Inflammatory Disease Genomics Branch at the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), has studied the causes of complex diseases and health disparities.

This oral history traces a path from Dr. Rotimi's early work studying lung and stomach cancer at Ford Motor Company in Cleveland, Ohio, to his work on Human Heredity and Health in Africa (H3Africa), an NIH initiative to develop large-scale population studies by African researchers on African populations. Dr. Rotimi's oral history also offers insights into the complexities of community engagement and the importance of international scientific efforts.

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Interview with David Bentley

David Bentley, Ph.D., is cChief sScientist at Illumina Inc., where he develops new DNA sequencing technology for fast, accurate sequencing of complex genomes.

This oral history follows Dr. Bentley's career, including his research in Nobel Laureate Fred Sanger, Ph.D.'s, lab at Cambridge in 1979, the early rumblings of the Human Genome Project in the mid-1980s, and Phase I of the International HapMap Project in 2005 -  an international effort aimed at finding common genes and genetic variations that affect health and disease.  

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Interview with Howard McLeod

Howard McLeod, Pharm.D., is the founding medical director of the Moffitt Cancer Center's DeBartolo Family Personalized Medicine Institute and a senior member in its Department of Cancer Epidemiology.

This oral history explores Dr. McLeod's early career experiences with genetics and oncology at St. Jude Children's Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, his reflections on the importance of shared science and data, and the controversies surrounding Bi-Dil, the first race-based pharmaceutical.

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Interview with Ewan Birney

Ewan Birney, Ph.D., co-director of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory's (EMBL) European Bioinformatics Institute, played a vital role in annotating the genome of human, mouse, chicken and several other organisms, and his work has had a profound impact on our understanding of genomics.

This oral history explores the Human Genome Project from Dr. Birney's perspective as a young scientist and roommate of future director of the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), James Watson, Ph.D. This video also explores the field of genomics through a bioinformatics lens.

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Interview with Maynard Olson

Maynard Olson, Ph.D., professor of Genome Sciences and Medicine at the University of Washington in Seattle, is a major figure in genomics research, and his research involving large- scale genome analysis - with emphases on both technology development and applications - made him an invaluable participant in the Human Genome Project.

Dr. Olson's oral history explores his early years growing up near the National Institutes of Health, his efforts to map the yeast genome in 1978, and his role as mentor to Eric Green, M.D., Ph.D., the current director of the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI).

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Last Updated: September 20, 2017

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NHGRI oral history collection features influential genomics researchers