William Haseltine

March 9, 2009

William A. Haseltine is president and founder of the William A. Haseltine Foundation for Medical Sciences and the Arts. Haseltine has been at the vanguard of discoveries in molecular biology and the commercialization of bio­technologies for more than three decades—as a medical school professor, entrepreneur, and health-care philanthropist.

In 1992, Haseltine founded Human Genome Sciences Inc. (HGSI), one of the first biopharmaceutical companies to patent human genomic sequences for medical use. He coined the term regenerative medicine to describe the use of natural human substances, such as genes, proteins, and stem cells, to regenerate diseased or damaged human tissue. As a professor at Harvard Medical School from 1976 to 1993, he was part of a team at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute that led the race to discover how the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) compromises, and ultimately destroys, the human immune system. His laboratory determined the genomic sequence of HIV, and Haseltine developed many of the tools that have led to successful combination chemotherapy for the treatment of AIDS.

After retiring as CEO of HGSI in 2004, Haseltine focused his attention further on developing life-saving drugs and medical devices and making them accessible. Al­though he still believes genomics holds great promise for medicine, he questions the market potential of presymptomatic genetic testing and acknowledges that the commercialization of drugs has been more difficult than was expected. At the same time, Haseltine is a passionate advocate of "green" genomics. He foresees new applications of "synthetic biology" for healing the earth, for example, by using gene splicing and microbial cultivation in seawater to create a carbon-neutral source of energy from sunlight.

Focus: Business, Energy, Environment, Health, Science, Technology, United States, Americas

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Last Updated: Apr 22, 2013

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