"Love of Numbers Leads to Chromosome 17," Profile of Eric Steven Lander, by Philip J. Hilts. New York Times, September 10 1996, page C1.
Eric Lander is a mathematician-turned-molecular biologist who is bringing the power of mathematics to bear on the problem of constructing a complete catalogue of the human genome. After studying mathematics and managerial economics, Lander developed an interest in biology by hanging around laboratories and talking with his brother, who is a neurologist. After writing a few research papers at the interface of mathematics and biology, Lander received a US$250,000 MacArthur award, which helped to finance his travels to do genetic research on isolated populations. Today, at age 39, he is the director of the Whitehead Institute/MIT Genome Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts. This is one of several laboratories around the country currently working on the federally-funded human genome project. As Lander says in the article, "The genome project is wholly analogous to the creation of the periodic table in chemistry." The hope is that this research will eventually lead to new understanding of gene functions and new strategies for disease prevention.