J. Craig Venter is an entrepreneurial scientist who has made international headlines for his work sequencing the human genome, discovering new microorganisms and genes in the ocean, and, more recently, engineering synthetic life. Patents on his discoveries caused international concern and speculation about intellectual property rights relating to DNA.

Born in Salt Lake City, Utah, on October 14, 1946, Venter performed poorly at school and was more interesting in building things. He was drafted into the Vietnam War, in which he was a medic for the U.S. Navy. He has attributed his drive and ambition to learning the value of life in the face of death in Vietnam.

On returning from the war, he attended the University of California, San Diego, where he completed a bachelor ...

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