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Herbert Boyer
Herb Boyer.jpg
Herb Boyer
Born July 10, 1936 (1936-07-10) (ageĀ 84)
Awards National Medal of Science (1990)

Herbert W. Boyer (born July 10, 1936 in Derry, Pennsylvania) received the 1990 National Medal of Science, and is a co-founder of Genentech. He served as Vice President of Genentech from 1976 until his retirement in 1991.

With Stanley Cohen, he did possibly the first piece of genetic engineering.


Boyer was a Professor of Biochemistry from 1976 to 1991, where he discovered that genes from bacteria could be combined with genes from eukaryotes. In 1977, Boyer's laboratory and collaborators described the first-ever synthesis and expression of a peptide-coding gene. In August 1978, he produced synthetic insulin using his new transgenic genetically modified bacteria, followed in 1979 by a growth hormone.

In 1976, Boyer founded Genentech with venture capitalist Robert A. Swanson. Genentech's approach to the first synthesis of insulin beat Walter Gilbert's approach at Biogen which used genes from natural sources. Boyer built his gene from its individual nucleotides.

In 1990 April, Boyer and his wife Grace gave the single largest donation ($10,000,000) bestowed on the Yale School of Medicine by an individual. The Boyer Center for Molecular Medicine was named after the Boyer family in 1991.

In 2007, St. Vincent College announced that they had renamed the School of Natural Science, Mathematics, and Computing the Herbert W. Boyer School.

Among his professional activities, Boyer is on the Board of Scientific Governors of The Scripps Research Institute.


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