Pittcon Heritage Award

March 2, 2008

E-Separation Solutions

Sunday afternoon's plenary lecture at Pittcon 2008 was presented by Dr. Leroy Hood, President of the Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle, Washington. The lecture was preceded by the Pittcon Heritage Award presentation, which was awarded to Hood.

Sunday afternoon's plenary lecture at Pittcon 2008 was presented by Dr. Leroy Hood, President of the Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle, Washington. The lecture was preceded by the Pittcon Heritage Award presentation, which was awarded to Hood.

Dr. Hood was introduced by Pittcon 2008 Program Chair Jane N. Chan, who noted that this was the first time that the Pittcon Heritage Award winner also presented the Plenary Lecture.

Hood's lecture was titled "Systems Biology and Systems Medicine." In the lecture, Hood outlined the contemporary state of systems biology and its application to disease. According to Hood, the systems approaches will allow biologists to deal with biological complexity, and these approaches will include the use of new computational tools and thinking about biology as a computational science. He discussed the benefits of the systems approach to medicine and how the developments in DNA sequencing and nanotechnology-based blood protein measurements could transform medicine in the near future.

Hood stated that two types of information are important in the systems biology approach: The digital information of the genome, and the environmental information that impinges upon and modifies the information. The goal of the approach is to use biology to drive the technology and computation. According to Hood, there is a need to create a cross-disciplinary environment. Hood noted that his view is that "these systems approaches will transform every aspect of biology."

As an example of the approach, he described the study of prion disease by brain transcriptome analysis using eight mouse strain combinations.

Dr. Hood's distinguished career in fundamental biology research began at Caltech, where he and his colleagues developed instrumentation such as an automated DNA sequencer that was used in the human genome project in the 1990s. In 1992 he founded the Department of Molecular Biotechnology at the University of Washington (Seattle, Washington), where he studied cancer biology and prion disease. In 2000, he cofounded the Institute for Systems Biology to develop systems approaches to biology and medicine. Hood has received many prestigious awards, including the Lasker Prize in 1987 for studies on the mechanism of immune diversity, the 2002 Kyoto Prize in Advanced Technology for developing five instruments, the 2003 Lemelson-MIT Prize for Innovation and Invention for the development of the DNA sequencer, the 2003 Association for Molecular Pathology (AMP) Award for Excellence in Molecular Diagnostics, the 2004 Biotechnology Heritage Award, and the 2006 Heinz Award in Technology, the Economy and Employment for his research in biomedical science. Hood is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Engineering.