Human Genome Turns 15: Mike Hunkapiller

Mike Hunkapiller, CEO, Pacific Biosciences


0:00 When did you first encounter the idea to sequence the entire human genome?

5:09 Were you pushing Craig, or was he pushing you?

7:47 Definition of sequencing has changed in the past 15 years

14:40 How big a deal are long reads?

19:15 Will PacBio take over the research market?

24:32 What’s been the biggest surprise of your career?

We’re all familiar with the announcement in the year 2000 by US President, Bill Clinton, and the UK’s Prime Minister, Tony Blair, that scientists had completed the first draft of the human genome. It was a big deal. But the actual publications didn’t happen until the next year, February of 2001. Which means that this February is the fifteenth anniversary of the publication of the first human genome. For our commemorative show we’re joined by Mike Hunkapiller, the CEO of Pacific Biosciences.

Mike and his team at PacBio are coming off a great year. Their stock is up. Their long read sequencing technology is used for over a thousand scientific publications. And last year they launched a new better, faster, cheaper instrument, the Sequel, which are sold out through the first half of this year. PacBio is cool again.

How much were tool makers in the driving seat of the genomic revolution? And how much further can sequencing improve? Before asking Mike this, we explore some of his memories of those wild days when sequencing the human genome got presidents and prime ministers on the phone with their speech writers.