PRINCETON, NJ, Jan. 17 - About 400 people braved the cold and snow Friday to witness David Botstein's first public appearance on the Princeton campus since being named director of the university's new Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics.
Botstein, who officially leaves Stanford and begins his duties this summer, presided over a daylong symposium called "Genomics: Connecting Basic Biology with Disease" to commemorate completion of the $40 million Carl C. Icahn Laboratory, which will house the new institute. (The 90,000-square-foot building was featured on the cover of the April 2002 issue of Genome Technology magazine, GenomeWeb's sister publication.)
The new institute will focus less on reductionism and more on integration, said Princeton President Shirley Tilghman. The goal, said Botstein, is to find the big picture in a discipline full of facts, with "less obsessive concentration on the details." Another focus will be on young researchers who, he said, will counter the view in the biomedical research community that "nobody has an independent thought until they're 40."
About every three years since 1980, Botstein said, molecular biologists have saying how great it's going to be. "This time it really is true," he said. Addressing the grad students in the audience, Lander said "you are all incredibly lucky."
Speakers at the commemoration included the Hutch's Lee Hartwell, Christiane N sslein-Volhard of the Max-Planck Institute, the ubiquitous Eric Lander (Princeton '78) and the Lewis-Sigler's previous director, Tilghman.
The audience comprised students, faculty, and members of the local pharma-biotech community. One notable spectator was Princeton's 92-year-old godfather of physics, John Archibald Wheeler, who attracted some autograph-seeking from among the speakers and pronounced genomics "the science of the next 100 years."