Press Release

J. Craig Venter, Ph.D., Announces Formation of Three Not-for-Profit Organizations

Organizations will Focus on Ethical and Social Issues Surrounding Genomics and Developing New Biological Energy Sources

ROCKVILLE, MD--April 30, 2002 — J. Craig Venter, Ph.D., has announced today the formation of three not-for-profit organizations — the TIGR Center for the Advancement of Genomics (TCAG), the Institute for Biological Energy Alternatives (IBEA), and the J. Craig Venter Science Foundation. Dr. Venter will be the president and chairman of each organization and will continue his role as chairman of the Board of Trustees of The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR), the not-for-profit genomic research institute he founded in 1992. TIGR will continue its mission as the world's leading research institute focused on the sequencing and functional analysis of microbial, parasitic, plant, and other eukaryotic genomes under the leadership of Claire M. Fraser, Ph.D.

"Genomic science has the potential to revolutionize our lives with many breakthroughs already occurring, but as with all new areas of science the exciting path toward discovery can be fraught with complicated and ethically challenging issues. New treatments for disease, and new food and energy sources are at risk without better public understanding of this new science. I have founded the three not-for-profit organizations to help educate the public and our elected leaders on these important scientific issues and to help drive the applications of genomics into environmental and social policies. At no time in our history are we in more need of higher science literacy to ensure that we do not impede research," said Dr. Venter.

The Center for the Advancement of Genomics (TCAG)

The sequencing, analysis, and publication of the human genome sequence, as well the work on the genomes of more than 60 microbial, plant, insect, and other eukaryotic genomes, has opened up a vast new realm of research possibilities for the future of medicine, science, agriculture and the environment. As a not-for-profit, independent public policy institute, TCAG seeks to help the general public and elected leaders better understand the social and ethical implications of this important yet complicated area of scientific research. The Center's visiting fellows and permanent staff will initially focus their efforts on promoting the passage of genetic nondiscrimination legislation in the United States Congress and helping to educate legislators on stem cells and potential new treatments and cures through these new discoveries. TCAG scientists will also explore the relationship between the genetic code and human traits and behavior, the ethno-geographic differences between populations, and race based medicine.

Institute for Biological Energy Alternatives (IBEA)

As a laboratory based research institution, the IBEA staff will use microbes, microbial genomics, microbial pathways, and plants as potential solutions to carbon sequestration and clean energy production. According to the U.S. Department of Energy approximately 80 percent of all human-caused carbon dioxide emissions currently come from fossil fuel combustion. The DOE also estimates that world carbon dioxide emissions are projected to rise from 6.1 billion metric tons carbon equivalent in 1999 to 7.9 billion metric tons per year in 2010 and to 9.9 billion metric tons in 2020. This continued consumption of fossil fuels is ample evidence that there is a growing need to eliminate carbon dioxide output into the environment and if possible capture back some of the carbon dioxide associated with global warming. IBEA will work on developing and using biological pathways and microbial metabolism to produce new fuels, e.g. hydrogen, with higher energy output in an environmentally sound fashion. Researchers in the Institute will also be developing potential new synthetic cells for use as biological fuel cells. This work could have profound impacts on the understanding of microbial cell biology and life definitions, as well as a better understanding of evolutionary biology.

The J. Craig Venter Science Foundation

The Foundation will be the support organization for TCAG, IBEA, and TIGR. The Foundation will provide administrative support and will coordinate policy and research activities between TCAG, IBEA, and TIGR and will carry out investment management and fund-raising activities on behalf of the three organizations. In addition to this internal support, the Foundation will explore new ways to foster science education and scientific innovation.


TIGR Center for the Advancement of Genomics (TCAG) is a not-for-profit policy center dedicated to advancing science through education and enlightenment of the general public, elected officials, and students. TCAG will seek to better understand evolutionary issues, broad social and ethical issues such as race as a social concept rather than a scientific one, and combating genetic discrimination. TCAG will also focus on the public issues associated with biology/genomics in mitigating greenhouse gas concentrations and biological energy production. TCAG is a 501 (c) (3) organization.

Institute for Biological Energy Alternatives (IBEA) is a research-based institution dedicated to exploring solutions for carbon sequestration using microbes, microbial pathways, and plants. For example, genomics could be applied to enhance the ability of terrestrial and oceanic microbial communities to remove carbon from the atmosphere. IBEA will develop and use microbial pathways and microbial metabolism to produce fuels with higher energy content in an environmentally sound fashion. IBEA will undertake genome engineering to better understand the evolution of cellular life and how these cell components function together in a living system. IBEA has applied for 501 (c) (3) status.

The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR) is a not-for-profit research institute based in Rockville, Maryland. TIGR, which sequenced the first complete genome of a free-living organism in 1995, has been at the forefront of the genomic revolution since it was founded by J. Craig Venter in 1992. TIGR conducts research involving the structural, functional, and comparative analysis of genomes and gene products in viruses, bacteria, archaea, and eukaryotes--higher animals and plants. TIGR is a 501 (c) (3) organization.

J. Craig Venter Science Foundation is the support organization for TIGR, TCAG, and IBEA. The Foundation provides administrative support and will coordinate policy and research activities between the three organizations. The Foundation has applied for 501 (c) (3) status.


Heather Kowalski
Kowalski Communications