Leroy Hood

Leroy Hood
Associated organizations
Institute for Systems Biology
Fields of study
Bioengineering
Awards
IEEE Medal for Innovations in Healthcare Technology

Biography

Leroy Hood’s development of five groundbreaking instruments, including the automated DNA sequencer, has helped unlock the mysteries of human biology and provided the foundation for the field of genomics, revolutionizing our understanding of genetics in the process. Moreover, two of these instruments—the automated DNA sequencer and the ink-jet DNA synthesizer—led to the concepts of high throughput biology and big data. A pioneer in bringing engineering to biology, Dr. Hood’s development of the DNA sequencer in 1986 allowed the rapid automated sequencing of human genomes. This instrument became the driving force of the Human Genome Project, enabling the reading of the entire human genetic code. Prior to the DNA sequencer, it took 30 years to map the genome of the cold virus. With the DNA sequencer, genomes of some viruses can now be mapped in less than an hour. Dr. Hood’s creation of the DNA synthesizer in 1987 made it possible to synthesize DNA fragments for sequencing and cloning complete genes. His development of the inkjet DNA synthesizer in 2004 enabled the creation of DNA chips that can measure the expression levels of tens of thousands of genes. Dr. Hood also developed a protein synthesizer (1981) and protein sequencer (1985) that helped establish the field of proteomics. His protein sequencer made it possible to determine the amino acid sequence of proteins present at vanishingly small concentrations. This resulted in the characterization of many new proteins and the cloning of their corresponding genes—opening up many new biological fields including the identification of the first oncogene. His protein synthesizer enabled the creation of an AIDS protease inhibitor, which was highly effective in treating AIDS. Dr. Hood has combined his genomic and proteomic expertise with mathematical modeling to form the discipline of systems biology, which has transformed biology and will be a key enabler of predictive and personalized medicine.

One of only 15 individuals elected to all three U.S. National Academies (the National Academy of Science, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine), Dr. Hood is president and co-founder of the Institute for Systems Biology, Seattle, WA, USA. Hood was awarded the 2014 IEEE Medal for Innovations in Healthcare Technology.