For developing the methods for chemically synthesizing DNA, "a breakthrough that dramatically advanced biological research and helped launch the biotechnology industry," CU Boulder Distinguished Professor Marvin Caruthers has been inducted into the 2018 National Inventors Hall of Fame inductee class.
National Inventors Hall of Fame is an American nonprofit organization that recognizes individual inventors who hold a U.S. patent of highly significant technology.
In the early 1980s, Caruthers and his team at CU Boulder developed the methods for chemically synthesizing DNA. His work transformed protein and DNA synthesis from highly specialized basic research into a widely used research, diagnostic and forensic tool.
The ability to synthesize DNA, rapidly and in the lab, enables researchers to learn how certain genetic sequences are formed and to locate and isolate genes for selected proteins. Early clinical studies on drugs stemming from Caruthers’ techniques showed remarkable benefits for patients with severe kidney disease and cancer.
More recently, his procedures have been adapted for use with modified ink jet printers to synthesize DNA on glass chips.
Caruthers received his bachelor's in chemistry from Iowa State University and his PhD in biochemistry from Northwestern University. The co-founder of several successful biotech companies, including Amgen and Applied Biosystems, he holds 43 U.S. patents and has received numerous awards, including the 2006 U.S. National Medal of Science.