Welcome to the very first edition of The Short Read, our weekly peek behind the curtain at the people who make this amazing community tick. Make sure to check back every Tuesday for the latest instalment.  

As a Harvard Geneticist and Director of, George Church has been behind some of the most exciting and innovative developments in the field in recent years, particularly in the world of next generation sequencing. In this inaugural issue of The Short Read, he shares some of his current projects, and which scientists he would love to invite to dinner…

George Church, Professor of Genetics, Harvard Medical School

George Church, Professor of Genetics, Harvard Medical School

What are you working on right now?

Cells resistant to all viruses via new genetic codes; eliminating (via gene drives) diseases associated with mosquitoes, rodents, ticks and nematodes; reversal of aging via multi-gene-therapies; engineering mammalian organs; and BRAIN activity & connectome.

What’s the biggest challenge you face in your work at the moment?

Funding of innovative and transformative technologies.

Name one big development that you would like to see in your field the next 18 months.

In situ RNA analysis of all (or nearly all) cells during development of a few animals.

What are you most proud of in your career?

Training hundreds of innovative professors and startup company citizens. Also, “next generation” reading & writing of DNA (improved quality & million-fold lower costs).

Which scientists, living, dead, or fictional, would you invite to dinner, and why?

Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, Marie Curie, Wilhelm Rontgen, and Nettie Stevens, for imaging the unseen.

What advice do you wish someone had given you at the start of your career?

Follow your dreams, not the drove. Plan carefully and creatively around safety and other risks. Seek frugality and innovation, not spending and spinning wheels. Apply a little humor and lots of compassion for your colleagues.

Why not check out The Short Read archives?

Amalio Telenti – Defying the “exome-centric” view

Anna Middleton – “It’s ok to be a bit creative and entrepreneurial”

Nan Doyle – “Get clear on what matters to you”  

David Smith – The “real keys to scientific success”

Hannes Smárason – The importance of Grit

Eric Topol – “Always question; never accept dogma”

Kristen Sund – “You don’t change culture overnight, it happens in baby steps”

Manuel Corpas – “Don’t rely on the future to make your choices now”

Brendan Gallagher – “Let your work’s ripple effects help sort the future out”

Hayley Robinson – When technology outpaces policy

Valentina Nardi – “Like a detective solving a puzzle”

Stephen Kingsmore – “Don’t forget to breathe!”

Judith Benkendorf – “Do not be afraid to look for mentors” 

David Flannery – “If only we could predict the future” 

Sarah Teichmann – Exploring the vast variety 

T. Patrick Hill – “Never forget that humility is the mark of greatness” 


Who would you like to see interviewed for The Short Read? Let us know via Twitter (@FLGenomics) or drop an email to our Digital Content Manager, Frida at