George M. Church

George Church

Born 1954

Geneticist, molecular engineer, chemist.

Known for his work in the sequencing of genomes, in synthetic biology, in genome engineering,  and in an emerging area of neuroscience that proposes to map brain activity and establish a “functional connectome.”

I was using books — even though I had a lot of trouble reading. By using the index and using photographs, I could figure out just about anything. So that kind of set me on a course of independent study. I was not particularly well adapted socially. I had dyslexia, narcolepsy, OCD, ADD — all these things were very mild, but made me feel different.”


All the failures I’ve overcome? That’s much more important than any successes. I had to repeat ninth grade. I had to repeat the beginning of graduate school. I lost my major source of funding just before I came up for tenure. … In each case, it helps if you can think out of the box and think of a new way of doing things. The other thing is: Follow your dreams, even if it does mean taking a risk. If you’re not failing, you’re probably not trying as hard as you could be. And being petrified of failure means you’re going to be probably a very extreme underachiever.