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.[citation needed] 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.

While a graduate student at Yale in 1991, he founded CuraGen, one of the first genomics companies. 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.[9] Rothberg also founded the Butterfly Network.[10]

Rothberg collaborated with Dr. Matthew Meyerson in 2006 to study the genetic basis of a patient’s drug response by applying next-generation sequencing to a lung cancer tumor.[11]

Rothberg founded Ion Torrent in 2007, who developed ion semiconductor sequencing which is utilized by their PGM DNA sequencer.[12]

Rothberg founded the Rothberg Institute for Childhood Diseases in 2002.[13]

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.[14] The institute ran a distributed computing project called Community TSC until April 2009.[15] 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.[16]


Rothberg was awarded the National Medal of Technology and Innovation by President Barack Obama in 2015 for his “pioneering inventions and commercialization of next-generation DNA sequencing technologies, making access to genomic information easier, faster and more cost-effective for researchers around the world."[17]

Rothberg received the Connecticut Medal of Technology in 2010.[1] In 2012, Rothberg was awarded the Wilbur Cross Medal as a distinguished alumni from Yale University.[18]


  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. ^ "List of Technology Pioneers 2008". World Economic Forum. Retrieved 2018-06-27.
  10. ^ Lurye, Rebecca. "Starting With Ultrasound, An Innovation Empire Is Growing In Guilford". Retrieved 2018-05-22.
  11. ^ Meyerson, Matthew (2015). "Cancer Genomics: Computational & Experimental Tools and Methods Developed by the Meyerson Lab". Dana-Farber. Retrieved 30 May 2018.
  12. ^ Ion Torrent Official Webpage. Archived 2012-11-06 at the Wayback Machine.
  13. ^ "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.
  14. ^ Andrew Pollack (January 4, 2011). "Taking DNA Sequencing to the Masses". The New York Times. Retrieved November 14, 2016.
  15. ^ "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.
  16. ^ "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.
  17. ^ Rothberg. "NMTI Laureate".
  18. ^ "Graduate School Honors Four Alumni with Wilbur Cross Medals | Yale Graduate School of Arts & Sciences". Retrieved 2018-06-04.