Hamilton Smith, M.D. is a distinguished professor emeritus at the J. Craig Venter Institute and former director of the Synthetic Biology and Bioenergy Group that created the first synthetic cell in 2010 and designed and synthesized the first minimal bacterial genome in 2016. He received an A.B. degree in Mathematics from the University of California, Berkeley in 1952 and the M.D. degree from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in 1956. He completed a residency in Internal Medicine in 1962. From 1962-67, he did research on lysogeny in phage P22 at the University of Michigan. In 1967, he was appointed Assistant Professor of Microbiology at Johns Hopkins. In 1970, he discovered the first Type II restriction enzyme, HindII. He received the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1978 for that work. From 1975 to 1998, he studied the DNA transformation mechanism in Haemophilus Inflluenzae Rd. In 1993, Dr. Smith began his long association with Craig Venter. In 1995, they collaborated to sequence the genome of H. Inflluenzae Rd, and from 1998 to 2002, at Celera Genomics they sequenced Drosophila and the human genome. After leaving Celera, Smith and Venter began their work in synthetic biology.
Deciphering the genetic requirements for minimal bacterial life
- Assignment of genetic functions to unknown genes in the minimal cell by computational, biochemical and genetic methods.
Designing a minimal yeast cell
- Determining non-essential genes by global DNA cassette insertional mutagenesis.
Understanding the mechanism of DNA cassette insertional mutagenesis in yeast
- Genetic and biochemical analysis of the DNA insertion mechanism.