Of all the awe-striking discoveries humanity has found pertaining to DNA, and genome sequencing in the past few years, only a portion would have been uncovered without Craig Venter, PhD. Despite having spent his younger years dreading each day he went to school, and waiting patiently for the day he could graduate and spend his days surfing and walking along sandy beaches, he became one of the most notable members in journeying to understand the human chromosome. Service in the Vietnam War, along with all the trials and tribulations it brought, presented him with not only a new outlook on life itself, but a new passion. A desire to learn more replaced old bad habits and cravings, bringing himself to enter into college upon his arrival back on home soil.
He began his college career stemming from experiences he had encountered working in emergency combat hospitals, an interest which changed upon reading The Double Helix by James Watson for a school project. The direction of his interest changed quickly, and set his life in motion for the great things he was going to accomplish. His new direction brought on a whole host of new challenges and conflicts, something that he welcomed with open arms and charged straight into.
Starting from a simple interest in a book, he grew to be known for fully sequencing a diploid genome, and discovering which major diseases were linked to human genes. His work did not stop there, though. Rather, he continued to challenge himself, and on September 16th of 2014 he announced to the World Annual Congress his part in research towards anti-aging medication.
“I discovered that I loved taking risks and facing challenges—a side of me that I have not yet outgrown.”
As a kid, Craig had a strong desire for his own freedom, however, big challenges would come with it. School activities never fascinated him, leaving him always searching for more. In younger years, this desire for something to truly captivate his interests lead him in dangerous directions. Adventure and opportunity came in the face of playing on railway tracks. Upon outgrowing them, his ventures changed to causing trouble with friends, doing things no one would expect from a future esteemed scientist. Mayhem did not stop there either, following him out of his adolescents and into adulthood. Nearly having himself court martialed for misconduct after being drafted did nothing but grow the spirit that he refused to let go of. Even the notice of being sent to Vietnam was welcomed as a new and exciting challenge that he was prepared to dive into.
The very spirit which he refused to leave behind helped him grown his academics later in life, not allowing anything to slow him down or stop him. Nothing in his earlier years ever stopped him, whether it was the threat of being imprisoned or pressures of failures, he was prepared to keep pushing to see what would come of the new challenges.
“The academic scientists protested that the human genome was a biomedical challenge for the best and brightest in molecular biology and genetics.”
Despite having an academic career held back slightly by his time spent in Vietnam, he willed himself to return. Ignoring the difficulties he had in school as a child, which included low grades and poor records, he applied and found himself accepted into post-secondary classes. Even with interest in his classes, there were areas in which he had great difficulty. Realizing the challenge, refusing to give up, and requesting the assistance of teachers brought his grades up drastically.
What likely would have been the end of the line for many, accepting the face they believed to be engraved in stone, Craig ignored the boundaries. The challenges placed before him were hurtled over without allowing them too much weight on his life. Even through failed experiments, he kept up through writing out research and looking for new ways to improve upon what had done wrong. Not allowing the challenges of life to drag him down brought him from a troubled young adult setting himself up for disaster, to a successful man who accomplished more than he could have ever fathomed.
“After nearly a decade of work I developed new techniques that led me to decode the first entire genome of a living species, and the challenge grew to the ultimate, to sequence the human genome.”
Through all forms of tribulation Craig continued to press forward. Issues with projects slipped behind as he developed his skills. Before long, after finishing his program, Craig was on to working with all forms of projects. In a matter of a few years, he was on board with a large project working to fully analyze the human chromosomes. Then shortly after, leaving it to start his own study in the exact same manner, with the slight change of limiting their time to three years rather than the ongoing inquiry he had previously been a member of. It was a bar set extremely high at the time, but a goal he accomplished with the help of an esteemed colleague. In the meantime they discovered major diseases which were previously not understood, such as cystic fibrosis and Huntington’s disease.
His research did not stop there though. Once his mission had been accomplished, he picked up more topics to research and develop an understanding for. All because he refused to surrender to difficult challenges.
Craig Venter accomplished things no one would have ever expected, all by facing difficulties and daring to overcome the standards set before him. him from a troubled child to a successful man. He accomplished things no one would have expected, all by facing difficulties and daring to overcome them.
Author Bio: Yesenia Klassen
- Venter, Craig. A Life Decoded. New York, NY, Penguin Group, 2007.
- Sheeve, James. The Genome War. Random House, Inc., 2004.