Leroy Hood of Seattle, Wash., was honored with the Fritz J. and Dolores
H. Russ Prize last month during a gala held by the National Academy of
Engineering (NAE).The Russ Prize, created by Ohio University with a gift from alumnus Fritz Russ and his wife, Dolores, was among the engineering profession's highest honors for 2011 during the black-tie dinner event at Union Station in Washington, D.C., according to a news release.
Hood received the $500,000 biennial award – which recognizes a bioengineering achievement in widespread use that significantly improves the human condition – for developing the DNA sequencer.
"One of the university's greatest sources of pride is the Russ Prize – a vision Fritz and Dolores had decades ago," said OU President Roderick McDavis in the release.
Hood's invention made possible the sequencing of the human genome in just more than a decade instead of a century.
"The human genome project transformed biology as perhaps no other science project has ever done," Hood said, noting that the project "democratized" all human genes by making them accessible to all biologists.
An inventor, scholar and visionary, Hood has been a pioneer in bringing engineering to biology through his invention and commercialization of many of the key analytic instruments in use today, and through his successful application of these instruments to some of the most fundamental problems in modern biology and medicine.
To date, more than 1,000 genomes have been revealed using the automated DNA sequencer, transforming many areas of biology.
Hood, president and co-founder of the non-profit Institute for Systems Biology, and his colleagues currently are utilizing advances in genomics, proteomics, and molecular diagnostics to pioneer advances in diagnostics, therapeutics, and prevention that will focus increasingly on promoting wellness rather than merely treating disease.
Hood predicts a sea of change in health care as we know it with the advent of what he terms "P4" medicine (predictive, preventive, personalized and participatory) – made possible by his work.
"This revolutionary new medicine will have important societal implications by sharply turning around the ever escalating costs of health care, and important medical implications because the twin vision of P4 medicine are wellness quantified and disease demystified," Hood explained.
McDavis and Hood were joined in the nation's capital by Dennis Irwin, dean of OU’s Russ College of Engineering and Technology; other university representatives; Russ College board members; Russ Prize committee members; and about two dozen Russ family members.