The 2007 Jeffrey M. Trent Lecture Introduction

Uploaded by GenomeTV on 10.02.2010

Dr. Eric Green: One of the things I did upon becoming scientific
director was to create a name lectureship to honor Jeff’s contributions to NHGRI and
NIH, and this is the annual Jeffrey Trent Lecture in Cancer Research. And as you can
see, we have brought four, and then today a fifth very distinguished speaker to come
and give that lecture, and part of our reasons for doing this is to make sure we get Jeff
to come back to campus once a year to visit, and so he is here today, and I asked him to
just make a few remarks before Francis Collins introduces the Jeffrey Trent lecture of this
year. Jeff.
Dr. Jeffrey Trent: Thank you. In the shadow of the Capitol, where
I’m reminded of the comment from the Arizona statesman, for many, many years, Mo Udall,
in a similar situation he said, “While everything has already been said, not everyone has already
said it.” And that’s certainly my responsibility today.
So, I have, actually, three things to say, which I hope haven’t been said maybe in
exactly the same words. Dr. Zerhouni, delighted that you’re here. I want to really say,
for all you that are part of this NIH family, that it is the most remarkable biomedical
research institute in the world. I hope that those of you that have your home here will
indeed not take it for granted. It is a gift to mankind, to science, and we’re delighted
for your efforts on our behalf.
The next is, I want you to realize just how much Francis and myself really contributed
to the foundation and the formation, and certainly the operationalization of NISC, which is just
essentially almost zero. Really, this is an Eric Green -- compliment to his tenacity,
and he was tenacious. He would -- I didn’t even have to go ask for funding, I just sent
him after Jim Batte and the others that really jumped into this to just get away from Eric,
and it was just an incredible tribute to Eric, and really, I think, very little to anyone
And finally, again, my great honor to be so honored -- during my lifetime, not posthumously
-- in this lecture by NHGRI, and I thank Eric for his willingness to give it, as well.
So, thank you very much.
Dr. Francis Collins: Well, what a wonderful day it has been here,
and it ain’t over yet, because Eric Green is not the only Eric with a lot of energy
in this audience and in this room, so you’re going to hear, I’m sure, some very exciting
and inspiring words in a moment from Eric Lander, who I have the privilege of introducing.
It has been a great day, to be able to celebrate NISC and its ten years of remarkable scientific
achievements, to celebrate Eric Green and his leadership, to celebrate all the members
of NISC who have been here during the day and who have made all this possible. To have
this wonderful lineup of presenters; I mean, what an amazing set of presentations have
been folded into this day of science, and thank you to all of you for coming and giving
us such interesting and inspiring presentations. And also, to celebrate Jeff Trent as the person
who got this scientific intramural program in genomics up and going, and it’s wonderful
to have him here and to have this lecture, which is named after his contribution to this
place, which has really been remarkable.
So, what do you say about a guy named Eric Lander? His CV is the stuff of legend. It
is, after all, whispered in the hallways. The ways in which he came up out of a rather
unlikely pathway to be, in many ways, the intellectual centerpiece of what has been
going on in genomics for quite some time. Eric, as you probably know, because it is
the stuff of legend, actually got his Ph.D. in Mathematics as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford,
went on to become a professor at Harvard teaching business negotiation. And let me say, as to
having been on the receiving end --
-- that that’s probably the best possible preparation to be a genome center director,
and it gives the genome staff quite a lot of challenges to try to keep up with the logic,
which -- you know, when he’s telling you about why he needs another $20 million by
next week, it all sounds so plausible, and then you walk away and you go, “No, wait
a minute, I think I just got Landered.”
Which is, after all, the verb that his own group uses to describe what happens after
you’ve been in a conversation with Eric, and suddenly you’ve changed your life plan.
“Well, you’ve been Landered.” So --
Yeah, Eric has been innovative, he has been disruptive -- in good ways. When we were trying
to get the mapping of the human genome done, he put together various automated approaches
to that, that hadn’t previously been assembled. There was the Genomatron, if you happened
to visit the Whitehead Genome Center back in the mid-1990s, there was just an amazing
contraption that took up half a room and all these robots and conveyor belts. But I learned
later on that they only turned it on for visitors.
And the rest of the time there was a lot of people behind the wall with pipette men, but
-- I guess that’s part of business negotiation training.
So, after that, of course, deciding that the Whitehead Institute for Genome Research, which
he had founded, was just getting a little too small, Eric has gone on to be the founder
of a truly remarkable institution, the Eli and Edith Broad Institute in Boston, which
is affiliated with both Harvard and MIT. And many people predicted that Harvard and MIT
would never be co-affiliated with anything, so that in its own right is an achievement,
again coming back to that business negotiation thing. Now, Eric, in the process of putting
that together, has assembled a truly remarkable group of young scientists, and if any of you
have the chance to go and visit with some of those people. Say hello to Eric, but go
talk to the young people in his facility. You will be truly amazed and inspired by what
this next generation is coming up with in terms of genomic applications to almost every
problem in biology and medicine that you can think of.
And so, it is truly a delight to have the chance to have him here, to give our Trent
Lecture. But you know, I don’t feel like I’ve quite done justice to this introduction.
I feel a song coming on.
If I had told Eric Green this ahead of time, he would have told me I couldn’t do it,
so --
-- sorry Eric.
Well, you know, he is the king. And you know what his institute is called.
Warehouse for sale or rent Look at all the dough he spent
MIT seemed oh-so-fine But that was so 1999
So then Eric mustered all his charm And he took that Eli guy by storm
He’s a man of means By all means
King of the Broad
Eric now, he just can’t wait To disrupt and innovate
If 10 machines would do Eric must have 32
When he needed help to do his thing He Landered anyone and anything
He’s a man of means By all means
King of the Broad
Well he started with maps and the Genomatron We just looked around, the whole thing was
gone The sequencing machines went into overdrive
Because Eric had to be the best of the G5
He did.
So I say, now he’s into other stuff DNA is not enough
Protein networks, they’re so cool And don’t forget small molecules
So now, Eric, before the time is spent Give the lecture named for Trent
You’re a man of means By all means
King of the Broad
I give you, Dr. Lander.