John Craig Venter (born October 14, 1946, Salt Lake City) is an American biologist and businessman. He began his academic career at a community college, College of San Mateo (California), after enlisting in the navy and serving a tour of duty during the Vietnam War. On returning, he received his bachelor's degree in biochemistry in 1972, and his Ph.D. in physiology and pharmacology in 1975, both from the University of California, San Diego. After working at the University at Buffalo, The State University of New York, he joined the National Institutes of Health in 1984.
While at NIH, Venter learned of a technique for rapidly identifying all of the mRNAs present in a cell, and began to use it to rapidly identify human brain genes. The short cDNA sequence fragments discovered by this method are called Expressed sequence tags, or ESTs, a name coined by Anthony Kerlavage at The Institute for Genomic Research. In a controversial court case, Venter tried to patent these gene fragments and lost the case.
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