The Human Genome Project: Reflections on shifting Paradigms and Science Policy

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Wednesday, October 18, 2017 4:00pm - 5:00pm
Watson CIT - SWIG Boardroom (CIT241)

Charles DeLisi
Dean Emeritus, College of Engineering
Metcalf Professor, Science and Engineering
Boston University

The Human Genome Project: Reflections on shifting Paradigms and Science Policy

The Human Genome Project (HGP) almost didn’t happen. I’ll reflect on the Projects origins: why it happened when it happened, its turbulent beginnings, and its impact on the culture of biomedical science. The HGP taught us a lot about science policy, but some of the lessons have yet to be implemented. For example, progress toward mitigating global warming, which is an enormously complex scientific and engineering challenge that can’t be addressed effectively by regulations alone, is not on the national agenda—there are no plans for the equivalent of a Manhattan Project or a Human Genome Project or Moon-Shot. Whether or not we think there should be, the problem of process remains largely unaddressed, as does the problem of stimulating innovation. I’d like to conclude with a brief conversation, however preliminary, about these complicated issues.

Charles DeLisi is Metcalf Professor of Science and Engineering at Boston University, Dean Emeritus of the College of Engineering. Prior to moving to BU, he was Professor and Department Chair at the Mount Sinai Medical School (1987-1990), Director of the Department of Energy's (DOE) Health and Environmental Research Programs, and Associate Director of Energy Research (1985-1987), Section Chief at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) (1975-1985), and Theoretical Division Staff Scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory (1972-1975).  He was at NYU from 1965-1969, where he obtained his PhD in Physics, and at Yale from (1969-1972) where he did post-doctoral research in chemistry. 

Dr. DeLisi has authored or coauthored more than 300 research papers in immunology, biophysical chemistry, applied mathematics and bioinformatics. He has served on and various Federal, industrial and university advisory boards including the Committee on Information Technologies, U. S. Congress, OTA, l988-1990; the Committee on Interagency Radiation Research Policy Coordination, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, l985-l987; Founding Scientific Advisory Board, Molecular Vaccines (Medimmune), Inc. 1987-1991; Los Alamos National Laboratory, Theory Advisory Committee, 1987-1991, 1995-2001; Science Advisory Board, Human Genome Center, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, U. Cal., Berkeley, l988-1990; Science and Technology Steering Committee, Brookhaven National lab, 1998-2002; Science Advisory Board, Santa Fe Inst., 1996-2001, 2002-2005; Merck Research Labs, 2007- 2009, NIH Office of the Director, 2007-2010. 


His awards include the Smithsonian Institution Platinum Technology Award for Pioneering Leadership (shared); the US DOE Bicentennial Exceptional Service Award (Secretary Richardson) and the Presidential Citizen’s Medal for his role in initiating the Human Genome Project.