Wyss Institute core faculty member, George Church, Ph.D., has received the 2011 Bower Award and Prize for Achievement in Science from the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. The prestigious award honors Dr. Church for his innovative contributions to genomic science, including development of DNA sequencing technologies, advancement of personal genomics with the Personal Genome Project, and fundamental research in synthetic biology.
Dr. Church now enters an elite group of previous Franklin prize winners that includes Pierre and Marie Curie, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking, and Orville Wright. The Franklin Institute was founded in 1824 to honor Benjamin Franklin and inspire a passion for learning about science and technology. It has maintained the longest continuously awarded science and technology awards program in the United States, and one of the oldest and most prestigious in the world.
In announcing the award, the Institute praised Dr. Church for his trailblazing work in this, the 21st century, which "promises to be the century of biology," as remarkable insights into the fundamental mechanics of life give us increasing abilities to heal disease and enhance humankind.
"This is a tremendous — and well deserved — honor for George, whose visionary work and commitment to technology innovation is an inspiration to all of us at the Wyss," said Wyss Institute Founding Director, Donald E. Ingber, M.D., Ph.D. "It’s also rewarding to know that the Franklin Institute, with its deep historic perspective, shares our vision of the future of science in which biologically inspired engineering is poised to play a transformative role in medicine and create a more sustainable world."
Dr. Church is known for his many pioneering contributions to the fields of chemistry and biomedicine. In 1984, he developed the first direct genomic sequencing method, which resulted in the first commercial genome sequence, and he helped initiate the Human Genome Project. In 2005, he initiated the Personal Genome Project. He invented molecular multiplexing, second-generation genome sequencing and genome engineering, with applications ranging from human pluripotent stem cells to bioenergy.
At the Wyss Institute, Dr. Church conducts research into new technologies for genomic and proteomic measurement, and synthesis and modeling of biomedical and ecological systems, with a focus on personal genomics and biofuels. He also leads the Wyss Biomaterials Evolution Platform, which is dedicated to the development of massively parallel capabilities for directed evolution of molecules, polymers and whole genomes for regenerative medicine and bioenergy applications.