Of Genomes and Galas

I’ve had a lot of exciting things going on over the last month, some of which I’ve told you about, and some not. One recent day it was dark and stormy. Since we couldn’t go out on the boat, we decided to go to a special lunch presentation at the San Diego Yacht Club attended by many technical and business leaders from San Diego including Malin Burnham and Marye Anne Fox, Chancellor of UCSD. The talk was given by J. Craig Venter, who I had just barely heard of. I knew he was famous, but was not sure why. Craig gave us a thumbnail sketch of his life and the struggle to sequence the human genome. I met him and instantly liked him because it appeared to me I was meeting one of the world’s great scientists. Others may not agree because, after all, what do I know about gene sequencing? I decided that I would like to understand what the heck he did. Since I got a free copy of his book, A Life Decoded: My Genome: My Life, I decided to try to educate myself a little bit. In addition, while at the Yacht Club, I saw his 180-foot motorsailer. He uses it as a floating laboratory, having sailed around the world at least once taking water samples from a number of locations and analyzing them for their genetic content right there on the boat. I’ve met few Nobel laureates that I admire any more than I admire him. Another Nobel laureate I admire is Hans Bethe, who I personally had the privilege of working with while at Los Alamos. His personal philosophy became peace-at-all-cost oriented, however, and I do not quite feel that is the right approach.

The second outstanding event occurred this past Saturday night March 8th when Betty and I were honored at the Heart of San Diego gala at the Hotel del Coronado. It was a formal event, and formal events are rather painful for me. My daughter had gone to the trouble of preparing a video on Betty and my life. The event came off very well, and when we were asked to talk Betty asked me to say a few words. I said, “It brings tears to my eyes to see so many close friends here in the ballroom. I suspect my enemies would fill a few tables as well.” We also thanked the UCSD Sulpizio Family Cardiovascular Center for honoring us. MA commissioned a painting by an artist to celebrate the event. I had hoped to get the picture but MA told me today that it’s already hanging in our house. This event has been one of the most successful fundraisers ever for the cardiovascular program at UCSD. I’d like to personally thank all of you who attended and contributed to this event.

— Bob