Leroy Hood : biography
Dr. Hood is a member of the American Philosophical Society, fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Society of Microbiology, as well as a member of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), the Institute of Medicine, and the National Academy of Engineering. He is one of only 15 scientists (of more than 6,000 members of The National Academies) ever elected to all three academies. Dr. Hood has been instrumental in founding 13 biotechnology companies, including Amgen, Applied Biosystems, Systemix, Darwin, Rosetta, Integrated Diagnostics, and Accelerator Corporation.
Leroy Hood, MD, PhD (born October 10, 1938 in Missoula, Montana) is a world-renowned scientist, inventor, entrepreneur and visionary. His discoveries have permanently changed the course of biology, and revolutionized the understanding of genetics, life, and human health. Hood’s life’s work has been defined by two fundamental beliefs, instilled in him while a doctoral candidate at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) by his mentor William J. Dreyer: always practice biology at the leading-edge; and if you really want to change biology, develop a new technology for pushing back the frontiers of biological knowledge.
Hood received an M.D. from Johns Hopkins University in 1964 and a Ph.D. from California Institute of Technology in 1968, where he was a faculty member for 22 years.
Genomics and Proteomics
Dr. Hood and his colleagues at Caltech created the technological foundation for the sciences of genomics (study of genomes) and proteomics (study of proteins) through the invention of five groundbreaking instruments (the protein sequencer, the protein synthesizer, the DNA synthesizer, the automated DNA sequencer and the ink-jet DNA synthesizer) and by elucidating the potentialities of genome and proteome research into the future through his pioneering of the fields of systems biology and systems medicine. Hood’s instruments not only pioneered the deciphering of biological information, but also introduced the concept of high throughput data accumulation through automation and parallelization of the protein and DNA chemistries.
The protein sequencer and protein synthesizer transformed the field of proteomics. The protein sequencer allowed scientists to determine the amino acid sequence of proteins that had not previously been accessible, resulting in the characterization of a series of new proteins whose genes could then be cloned and analyzed. These discoveries led to significant ramifications for biology, medicine, and pharmacology. The protein synthesizer allowed for the synthetic synthesis of short peptides and whole proteins in sufficient quantities to begin characterizing their functions.
Revolutionizing the field of molecular biology, the DNA synthesizer allowed biologist to synthesize DNA fragments for cloning and other genetic manipulations, The DNA synthesizer played a critical role in the identification of many important genes and in the discovery of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR), the critical technique that allow any segment of DNA to be amplified a million-fold. The most notable of Hood’s inventions, the automated DNA sequencer developed in 1986, made possible high-speed sequencing of human genomes and was the key technology enabling the Human Genome Project.
In the early 1990s Hood and his colleagues developed the ink-jet DNA synthesis technology for creating DNA arrays with tens of thousands of gene fragments. The ink-jet DNA synthesizer created one of the first DNA array chips, which enabled measuring of expression levels of 10,000s of genes. This instrument has transformed genomics, biology, and medicine.
The protein sequencer, protein synthesizer, DNA sequencer and DNA synthesizer were commercialized by Applied Biosystems, Inc. and the ink-jet technology was commercialized by Agilent Technologies.