UW News

July 11, 2002

Comments by King and Olson

Dr. Mary-Claire King, American Cancer Society Professor of Genome Sciences and Medicine at the UW:

“Bob Waterston is a geneticist’s geneticist. His perspective ranges from the worm to humans, from sequence to cell biology to clinical usefulness. As well as anyone working today, Bob makes the link between fundamental research questions and medical application.

“Today we take for granted that the sequence of the human genome is available to anyone with the click of a mouse. Without Waterston, it wouldn’t be. When Bob Waterston and John Sulston sequenced the worm genome, they established the principle of giving away their data – that is, putting it immediately online. They were able to make this moral principle stick when the human genome was sequenced because they were the major players in the sequencing. With Maynard Olson of UW, they were the pro-public guys of the public project.

“Bob Waterston is one of the world’s most productive scientists, a generous collaborator, and a whimsical and soft-spoken fellow. He is also allergic to hype. He and the UW School of Medicine are a perfect match.”

Dr. Maynard Olson, professor of genome sciences and medicine in the Division of Medical Genetics and director of the UW Genome Center, as well as an adjunct professor of computer science & engineering:

“Bob brings “triple-threat” credentials to his new job as the first chair of the UW Department of Genome Sciences. He is a superb geneticist, who understands the power of genetic studies on model organisms and has made major contributions to our understanding of the molecular components of muscle through model-organism research. He is a world-class genomicist who pioneered large-scale-genome sequencing as a leader of the “worm” project who then went on to play a central role in human and mouse sequencing. Finally, he is an M.D./Ph.D., who has the training and experience to promote effective applications of genomics to medicine.

“Bob is one of those people who has succeeded at everything he has undertaken. For example, the concept of a genome center and the way that an effective one needs to be organized are now commonplace ideas. However, when Bob set out to build the center in which the worm sequencing was done, there were no models. Many false starts were made around the country, while Bob’s center not only succeeded but set a pattern that was widely emulated. He is a patient, effective leader who sets a high scientific standard and is good at encouraging the people around him to set and achieve ambitious goals.”