Picture: 2003 Overton Prize Winner, Jim Kent

2003 Overton Prize Winner - Jim Kent

The ISCB will award the Overton Prize for 2003 to W. James Kent, an assistant research scientist at the University of California, Santa Cruz. The award, which recognizes outstanding achievement in the field of computational biology, will be presented at ISMB2003, where Kent will deliver the annual Overton Lecture on July 1, 2003.

Kent is best known as the researcher who "saved" the human genome project, a feat chronicled in the New York Times. With little more than a month before the company Celera was to present a complete draft of the human genome to the White House in 2000, Kent wrote GigAssembler, a program that produced the first full working draft assembly of the human genome, which kept the data freely available in the public domain.

Kent's main scientific goal has been to understand gene regulation by building bioinformatics tools such as his Intronerator system for exploring the genome of C. elegans; the program WABA, one of the first pair-HMMs for alignment of genomic DNA of two species; Improbiser, an expectation-maximization method to discover and cluster potential transcription factor binding sites; and the popular BLAT, which rapidly searches full genomes at both the DNA and protein levels.

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