WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- Renowned scientist Dr. Leroy Hood, president of the Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle, gave the 2002 Commencement Address at Whitman College earlier today (Sunday, May 19).

Dr. Hood, known for his pioneering work in the area of contemporary molecular biology, addressed seniors, parents, alumni and other guests of the college at commencement ceremonies held on the Memorial Hall lawn, adjacent to Boyer Avenue. For those who preferred an indoor setting, the ceremonies were broadcast to the Young Ballroom, Reid Campus Center; Kimball Theatre, Hunter Conservatory; Chism Recital Hall, Hall of Music; and Maxey Auditorium.

Dr. Hood, who is recognized as one of the world's leading scientists in molecular biotechnology and genomics, is probably best known in Washington state for his move to the University of Washington in 1992 to create the cross-disciplinary Department of Molecular Biotechnology, bringing together chemists, engineers, computer scientists, applied physicists and biologists. At the UW he applied his laboratory's expertise in DNA mapping to the analysis of human and mouse immune receptors and initiated studies in prostate cancer, autoimmunity and hematopoietic stem cell development.

In January 2000, Dr. Hood co-founded the Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle as a public non-profit research institute devoted to systems biology. Dr. Hood, a geneticist, immunologist and biotechnologist whose lab developed the automated DNA sequencing technology that enabled the Human Genome Project, was among a small group of scientists who first advocated the international effort in 1985.

"I believe that the opportunity exists to catalyze revolutionary new science," states Dr. Hood on the institute's website (www.systemsbiology.net/research/faculty). "My goal is to establish a unique and powerful Institute to achieve pioneering discoveries within the field of systems biology that can greatly advance preventive medicine. The Institute will unite biologists with specialists from other fields to unravel complex biological codes. By doing so, we can create the tools needed to analyze an individual's genes, identify disease predisposition and use preventive medicines to block the onset of diseases such as cancer, heart disease and auto-immune diseases."

Dr. Hood earned an M.D. from Johns Hopkins University in 1964 and a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the California Institute of Technology in 1968. His work won him many academic and scientific awards for his study of immune diversity, development of instruments to study biology and medicine, distinguished contributions to medical science, improvements to diagnostic methods and efforts to open doors for new treatments and cures. In 1995 Whitman College awarded him an Honorary Doctor of Science degree.