Jonathan Rothberg to Receive the National Medal of Technology and Innovation for Pioneering Next-Generation DNA Sequencing

Guilford, Connecticut, UNITED STATES

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwired - May 18, 2016) -  President Obama has named Dr. Jonathan Rothberg, founder of medical device incubator 4Catalyzer, as a recipient of the 2015 National Medal of Technology and Innovation. The award is the nation's highest honor for technical achievement and innovation. President Obama will personally bestow the award at a special White House ceremony on May 19th. Dr. Rothberg is being recognized for pioneering next-generation sequencing, a technology enabling personalized medicine and underlying President Obama's recently established National Cancer Moonshot initiative.

Next-generation sequencing, a method for high-speed DNA analysis, enables the low-cost decoding of individual human genomes or the genomes of any other living organism. Dr. Rothberg's invention is a million times faster and a millionth of the cost of previous approaches. High-speed, low-cost sequencing has transformed life science research, healthcare, agriculture, and the development of biofuels.

Dr. Rothberg, an engineer and molecular biologist, came to the idea of a much faster, less expensive way to decode DNA when his son was rushed to the newborn intensive care unit and he realized that the $3 billion Human Genome Project wouldn't help his son. He needed his son's personal genome. "My motivation for developing high-speed ways to understand a person's genetic makeup was personal -- I wanted to understand why Noah was having difficulty breathing," said Rothberg. "Answering this question led me on a journey with some of the world's most creative engineers, scientists, and physicians. I'm gratified to see my work help heal, feed, fuel, and secure the world."

About Next-Generation Sequencing

Dr. Rothberg understood that the sequencing approach used by the Human Genome Project, which took 10 years, was brute-force. He realized the answer to decoding genomes was to miniaturize the process and bring the "Monolithic Idea" and the power of Moore's law to DNA sequencing. The "Monolithic Idea," which Robert Noyce, founder of Intel Corporation, and Jack Kilby used to create the integrated circuit, enables Moore's law: the doubling of computer power every two years. Previously DNA sequencing was limited to decoding dozens of DNA strands at a time. Now, powered by Moore's law, next-generation sequencing allows scientists to decode hundreds of millions of DNA strands in parallel, at a millionth of the previous cost. High-speed, low-cost sequencing is now a central tool used across the life sciences, agriculture, environmental studies, medical research, and healthcare.

About Dr. Jonathan Rothberg

Dr. Jonathan Rothberg is best known for inventing and commercializing high-speed, "Next-Generation" DNA sequencing. Dr. Rothberg sequenced the first personal genome, James Watson's, and with Dr. Svante Paabo decoded the Neanderthal Genome. With collaborators he undertook the first deep sequencing of cancer, helped understand the mystery behind the disappearance of the honeybee, and helped elucidate the extent of human variation. The New England Journal described Dr. Rothberg's innovation as enabling "The New Age of Molecular Diagnostics" and Science Magazine has twice named his work as a breakthrough of the year. Dr. Rothberg was born in 1963 in New Haven, Connecticut. He earned a B.S. in chemical engineering from Carnegie Mellon University and an M.S., MPhil, and Ph.D. in biology from Yale University and holds an Honorary Doctorate of Science from Mount Sinai School of Medicine. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, and the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering. He is also a life trustee of Carnegie Mellon University and an Adjunct Professor of Genetics at the Yale School of Medicine.

About 4Catalyzer

4Catalyzer is a startup incubator dedicated to transforming 21st century medicine by developing therapeutics and pairing devices with artificial intelligence. 4Catalyzer is driven by the desire to develop products that will improve the lives of people we love.

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Dr. Jonathan Rothberg