Genomics pioneer Leroy Hood is the co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer of the Institute for Systems Biology, a Seattle-based nonprofit research institute committed to a systems approach to biology and disease rather than studying them one gene or protein at a time (i.e., an atomistic approach).
In 2003, Hood coined P4 Medicine, an approach to healthcare that is predictive, preventive, personalized, and participatory, and in 2010, co-founded the consortium P4 Medicine Institute, where he is chairman. “We hope to develop a whole series of stories about how actionable opportunities have changed the wellness of individuals, or have made them aware of how they can avoid disease,” said Hood in a Nature article on P4 Medicine.
“We hope to develop a whole series of stories about how actionable opportunities have changed the wellness of individuals.” –Leroy Hood
Hood’s earlier research work at Caltech led to the development of instruments critical to modern biology — the DNA and protein sequencers and synthesizers, all of which became core instruments for contemporary molecular biology. Later, Hood’s lab developed the ink-jet oligonucleotide synthesizer, a core technology for DNA chip synthesis and large-scale DNA synthesis, and the first instrument capable of global single-molecule analysis of DNA and RNA molecules. The most notable of Hood’s inventions, the automated DNA sequencer, made possible high-speed sequencing of human genomes and enabled the Human Genome Project.
In addition to his research, Hood has published 750 papers and received 36 patents, 17 honorary degrees, and more than 100 awards and honors, including the Lasker Prize (1987), the Kyoto Prize in Advanced Technology (2002), the Lemelson-MIT Prize for Innovation and Invention (2003), the Russ Prize (2011) for automating DNA sequencing; the National Medal of Science (2011), the NAS Award for Chemistry in Service to Society (2017), and was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2007.
He has also founded or co-founded 15 different biotechnology companies to help commercialize genomic and proteomic technologies, and is a member of all three National Academies: Science, Engineering, and Medicine.