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Lee Hood's $200 Million Project, Setting Microarray Standards, Academia and Industry Teaming Up

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Ten years ago this month, the first issue of Genome Technology hit mailboxes. In their letter to readers, chairman Dennis Waters and publisher Harry Greenwald said it was a good time for a new magazine focused on the "technology-led culture change in life sciences research" to launch, and that GT would be "dedicated to documenting and illuminating that change for the people who are living through it and living in it." How fitting, then, that GT's first cover story focused on Leroy Hood's $200 million institution for what was then being called "the new biology."

At the time, GT wrote that Hood described his mission as wanting to build "the world's most cutting-edge interdisciplinary research site." The result of his work was the Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle. No one knew then whether Hood's dream was going to pan out, or if, as GT wrote, the institute would end up becoming his "Waterloo." In 2000, the concerns ran the gamut from funding — Hood had managed to amass about $16 million, but said he needed around $200 million — to whether his vision for a transformation of medicine could even be achieved considering the necessary technologies for genomics, proteomics, and single-cell analysis research hadn't even been invented yet. Now, the ISB is on the cutting edge of systems biology research, and as early as 2005 began applying systems biology to "P4 Medicine," a term coined by Hood.

In September 2005, GT celebrated its fifth anniversary with a cover story about the growing need for microarray standards. At the time, microarray technology was starting to become mainstream in the lab, but researchers found the need for standards of measurement to turn it into a more precise technology, as it started to enter the realm of clinical use.

In GT's September 2009 issue, the growing comfort with collaborations between academia and industry made news. Once considered "selling out," academia's willingness to work with industry — and the billions of dollars it brought to the table — was starting to make sense. However, ethical issues in such relationships have begun to surface, and NIH and other regulatory bodies have tightened conflict-of-interest rules concerning the sometimes illicit relationships between individual researchers and pharmaceutical companies.

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