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Scientist runner-up: Craig Venter
Founder, Celera Genomics, The Institute for Genomic Research and J. Craig Venter Institute

The maverick scientist, who was among the first to sequence the human genome, made headlines earlier this year when he announced that he and a team of researchers from the J. Craig Venter Institute in San Diego had successfully been the first to create life in the lab: a fully reproductive microbe brought to life by synthetic DNA. Though some describe his efforts as Frankensteinian, President Obama said Venter's announcement raised genuine concerns. The long-term implications sound promising: algae-derived bio fuels powering cars, tumor-seeking microbial missiles, even oil-eating bugs. The technology pushes the limits, a bit like Venter. --J.P.M.

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Last updated July 09 2010: 1:19 PM ET
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