CSM Alumnus Dr. J. Craig Venter was one of nine eminent researchers to receive the National Medal of Science from President Barack Obama on October 7 during a White House ceremony. In his comments, President Obama said this about the recipients, “Their extraordinary achievements strengthen our nation every day-not just intellectually and technologically but also economically, by helping create new industries and opportunities that others before them could never have imagined.” The National Medal of Science recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions to science and engineering.

Dr. Venter is regarded as one of the leading scientists of the 21 century for significant contributions to genomic research. He is the founder and president of the J. Craig Venter Institute, a not-for-profit, research and support organization with more than 400 scientists and staff dedicated to human, microbial, plant and environmental genomic research. In 1995, Dr. Venter and his teams decoded the genome of the first free-living organism and have since sequenced hundreds of genomes using techniques and tools he developed. He attended CSM for a year and a half in the late 1960’s and transferred to University of California at San Diego where he earned a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and a Ph.D. in physiology and pharmacology.