Prize Recipient, 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.
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.
Prize was established by the ISCB in memory of G. Christian Overton,
a major contributor to the field of bioinformatics and member of
the ISCB Board of Directors who died unexpectedly in 2000. The prize,
now in its third year, is awarded for outstanding accomplishment
to a scientist in the early- to mid- stage of his or her career
who has already made a significant contribution to the field of
computational biology through research, education, service, or a
combination of the three.
of the Overton Prize have included David Baker, Howard Hughes Medical
Institute Investigator and associate professor at the University
of Washington for his outstanding contributions in genomics, and
Christopher Burge, assistant professor of biology at the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology for his work identifying and modeling genes
in higher eukaryotic organisms.