Jonathan Rothberg

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Rothberg, January 2008

Jonathan Marc Rothberg (born 1963) is an American scientist and entrepreneur.

Early life[edit]

Jonathan Marc Rothberg was born in New Haven, Connecticut to Lillian Rothberg and Henry Rothberg, a chemical engineer. Prior to Rothberg's birth, his parents founded Laticrete International, Inc. a family-owned manufacturer of products for the installation of tile and stone. Rothberg's family established the foundation for his scientific career.[1]

Education and scientific career[edit]

Rothberg earned a BS in Chemical Engineering with an option in Biomedical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University in 1985. He went on to Yale University and earned an MS, M.Phil., and Ph.D. in biology. His thesis at Yale focused on decoding a gene called slit responsible for wiring the nervous system. This work resulted in a cover article in the journal Cell in 1988.

While a graduate student at Yale in 1991, he founded CuraGen, one of the first genomics companies. CuraGen focused on how the proteins encoded in a genome function together, and published the first global proteomic maps of a eukaryotic cell and a metazoan organism (featured on the covers of Nature and Science) and developed drugs for the treatment of metastatic skin and breast cancer. However, after never bringing a drug to market, CellDex Therapeutics acquired CuraGen in 2009 and reduced it to only five employees by October.[2]

In 2000 454 Life Sciences was founded as a subsidiary of Curagen; Rothberg was the CEO of Curagen at the time.[3] It was acquired by Roche Diagnostics in 2007 then closed down by Roche in 2013 after other approaches to sequencing rendered the underlying technology noncompetitive.[4]

Rothberg brought to market a machine for massively parallel DNA sequencing. 454 Life Sciences and the Baylor College of Medicine Genome Center was the first to complete and make public the sequence of an individual human genome (James D. Watson[5][6]). Published in Nature magazine, that genome was made publicly on GenBank and browsable via the efforts of Lincoln Stein's group [7] contributing to personal genomics. Rothberg initiated the Neanderthal Genome Project in collaboration with Svante Pääbo's group.[8]

Rothberg founded RainDance Technologies, which used droplet-based microfluidics.[citation needed]

Rothberg founded Ion Torrent in 2007, who developed ion semiconductor sequencing which is utilized by their PGM DNA sequencer.[9]

Rothberg founded the Rothberg Institute for Childhood Diseases in 2002.[10] He and his wife Bonnie Gold-Rothberg have five children. One of them was affected by the rare genetic disease tuberous sclerosis, and the non-profit institute specialized in treating that disease.[11] The institute ran a distributed computing project called Community TSC until April 2009.[12] The TSC project was based on technology known as the Drug Design and Optimization Lab (D2OL), which the institute sponsored through 2009, to use volunteers' personal computers to model interactions of drug candidates with their target molecules.[13]

Rothberg is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, the Connecticut Academy of Medical Science and Engineering, and is a life of trustees of Carnegie Mellon University.


Rothberg received the Connecticut Medal of Technology in 2010.[1]


  1. ^ a b "Jonathan M. Rothberg" (PDF). 2010 Connecticut Medal of Technology bio. Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering. June 18, 2010. Retrieved November 14, 2016. 
  2. ^ Eric Gerson (October 10, 2009). "A Smaller CuraGen Corp. To Stay Open In Branford". The Hartford Courant. Retrieved November 14, 2016. 
  3. ^ "Curagen Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2000". SEC. 
  4. ^ Hollmer, Mark (October 17, 2013). "Roche to close 454 Life Sciences as it reduces gene sequencing focus". Fierce Biotech. 
  5. ^ Project Jim: Watson’s Personal Genome Goes Public at Bio-IT
  6. ^ Nicholas Wade (May 31, 2007). "Genome of DNA Pioneer Is Deciphered". The New York Times. Retrieved November 14, 2016. 
  7. ^ James Watson's Personal Genome Sequence Archived 2008-12-03 at the Wayback Machine.
  8. ^ Analysis of one million base pairs of Neanderthal DNA at
  9. ^ Ion Torrent Official Webpage. Archived 2012-11-06 at the Wayback Machine.
  10. ^ "Sharing a home, a family and science—two alumni try to make a difference". Yale Medicine Alumni Notes. January 2007. Archived from the original on May 9, 2007. Retrieved November 14, 2016. 
  11. ^ Andrew Pollack (January 4, 2011). "Taking DNA Sequencing to the Masses". The New York Times. Retrieved November 14, 2016. 
  12. ^ "The End of an Era". Rothberg Institute for Childhood Diseases. April 9, 2009. Archived from the original on February 16, 2009. Retrieved November 14, 2016. 
  13. ^ "On April 15, 2009, the D2OL distributed computing project will officially end operations". D2OL web site. Archived from the original on April 19, 2009. Retrieved November 14, 2016.