Dr. Leroy Hood, who helped develop the technological foundation for modern molecular biology, will speak at West Virginia University as part of the Festival of Ideas.

Hood will presentSystems Biology and Medicineat 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 19, in Ming Hsieh Hall, Room G21 .

His talk is free and open to the public. It also part of the Universitys DarwinFest , a series of activities surrounding the 200th birthday of naturalist Charles Darwin. The speakers will discuss the latest ideas about their respective fields with a nod to Darwinian principles.

Hoods professional career began at Caltech, where he and his colleagues pioneered the DNA gene sequencer that played a crucial role in contributing to the successful mapping of the human genome during the 1990s. The group also created the DNA gene synthesizer and the protein synthesizer and sequencer, each a crucial component in the study of molecular biology.

The DNA sequencer earned Hood a spot in the National Inventors Hall of Fame , and his scientific contributions earned him the 2004 Biotechnology Heritage Award, the 2003 Association for Molecular Pathology Award for Excellence in Molecular Diagnostics and a Heinz Award in Technology, the Economy and Employment in 2006.

He also played a role in founding more than 14 biotechnology companies and is a leader in systems medicine and the systems approach to disease. Hood was elected to the National Academy of Sciences , the American Philosophical Society , the American Academy of Arts and Sciences , the Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Engineering .

Hood has published more than 600 peer-reviewed papers, received 14 patents and co-authored textbooks in biochemistry, immunology, molecular biology and genetics. He co-wroteThe Code of Codes,a popular book on the human genome project.

Hoods lecture is supported in part by the Nath Lecture, a WVU Honors College program, which is funded through an endowment by Drs. Joginder Nath, a WVU genetics professor, and Charlotte Nath, a WVU professor in family medicine.

We are privileged to have a scientist of Dr. Hoods stature and accomplishments participate in the Festival of Ideas,Joginder Nath said.His work has been ground-breaking and in keeping with the Darwinian themes surrounding this years Festivalforward-thinking. His ideas, including a systems approach to biology and medicine, and inventions will spark scientific discovery, thought and discussion for years to come.

The Festival of Ideas lecture series was revived shortly after WVU President David C. Hardesty Jr. took office in 1995. It was inspired by events he organized as WVU student body president in the 1960s.

Each year since, the Festival of Ideas has brought key figures from the fields of sports, politics, business, entertainment, research, scholarship and culture to Morgantown. The presentations are free and open to the public.

The series is supported in part by the David C. Hardesty Jr. Festival of Ideas Endowment.