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Leroy E. Hood, president and co-founder, Institute for Systems Biology, Senior Vice President and Chief Science Officer, Providence St. Joseph Health, received the 2017 NAS Award for Chemistry in Service to Society.

Lee Hood is a biotech visionary who has revolutionized biology and medicine in a career that spans five decades. Among his many accomplishments, Hood invented, commercialized and developed multiple chemical tools that address biological complexity, including the automated DNA sequencer which spearheaded the Human Genome Project.

Hood’s earlier research work at Caltech led to the development of four instruments—the DNA and protein sequencers and synthesizers, all of which became core instruments for contemporary molecular biology. Later, Hood’s lab developed the ink-jet oligonucleotide synthesizer, a core technology for DNA chip synthesis and large-scale DNA synthesis, and the first instrument capable of global single-molecule analysis of DNA and RNA molecules.

Beyond these innovations, Hood shepherded a cross-disciplinary approach to chemistry and biology, which led to the establishment of the Science and Technology Center for Molecular Biotechnology through the National Science Foundation, as well as the creation of the first cross-disciplinary department of biology, Department of Molecular Biotechnology (MBT) at the University of Washington, in Seattle, efforts which have influenced everything from academic research to K-12 STEM education.

Hood was an early proponent and advocate for the Human Genome Project, and directed the Human Genome Center’s sequencing of portions of human chromosomes 14 and 15. He has also founded or co-founded 15 different biotechnology companies to help commercialize genomic and proteomic technologies. Hood is a member of all three National Academies: Science, Engineering and Medicine.

In 2000, Hood co-founded the Institute for Systems Biology (ISB) which was the first institute to practice systems biology. From the beginning, ISB started to focus systems approaches on studying disease. This led to the emergence of systems medicine. 

Dr. Hood’s pioneering work is now focused on new approaches to P4 medicine (predictive, preventive, personalized, and participatory), which is a continuation of his lifelong efforts to transform health care. In 2013, Dr. Hood and ISB embarked on creating a P4 pilot project in scientific wellness, comprising thousands of individuals.In 2016, ISB affiliated with Providence St. Joseph Health, to bring P4 medicine to the U.S. health care system. Dr. Hood is also beginning to focus on a systems education approach to bringing P4 medicine to health care professionals.

The NAS Award for Chemistry in Service to Society is awarded biennially for contributions to chemistry, either in fundamental science or its application, that clearly satisfy a societal need. The award is given in alternate years to chemists working in industry and to those in academia, government, and nonprofit organizations. The award is presented with a $20,000 prize.


Watch Hood's Acceptance Speech »

2017 Physical Science and Engineering Press Release »

NAS Award for Chemistry in Service to Society »

2017 NAS Award Recipients »

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