George Church
I’ve been trying every possible model to bring something forward that I think is overdue—everybody getting their genome.

Science & Medicine Pioneer

George Church

Genetics, Harvard University

George Church is the Robert Winthrop Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School, a Professor of Health Sciences and Technology at Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and a core faculty member of the Wyss Institute.


Church currently runs the Church Lab at Harvard Medical School and directs the Personal Genome Project, a long-term cohort study that allows scientists to connect human genetic information (human DNA sequence, gene expression, associated microbial sequence data, and more) with human trait information (medical information, biospecimens, and physical traits) and environmental exposures. “I’ve been trying every possible model to bring something forward that I think is overdue—everybody getting their genome—and it seems like some of the barriers have been cost and some have to do with perceived or actual security and ways of connecting the information to get higher value,” Church said in an interview in an interview with Science Magazine. “We eventually hit on what we think is a good solution.”

In 1984, Church developed a direct genome sequencing technique as part of his dissertation at Harvard, which contributed to the Human Genome Project (HGP). His innovations have contributed to nearly all "next generation" DNA sequencing methods and companies, and his lab’s work on chip-DNA-synthesis, gene editing, and stem cell engineering have resulted in founding additional application-based companies spanning fields of medical diagnostics, synthetic biology, and therapeutics.

Church has co-founded more than 14 biotech companies, has authored or co-authored over 400 papers, and co-authored the book Regenesis, in which he and science writer Ed Regis explore the possibilities—and perils—of the emerging field of synthetic biology.

Church is also the Principal Investigator of the Center for Genomically Engineered Organs (CGEO), and has led two prior Centers for Excellence in Genomic Science (CEGS). He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Engineering, and is a recipient of the Franklin Institute’s Bower Award for Achievement in Science (2011).