Bruce Birren is the director of the Genomic Sequencing Center for Infectious Diseases and co-director of the Genome Sequencing and Analysis Program at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. He also is the founding advisor to the institute's Diversity Initiative in Scientific Research.
Birren is an expert in and key contributor to many areas of genomics. He co-developed the technique of bacterial artificial chromosomes, which is used to clone long pieces of DNA in bacteria. He played a central role in mapping and sequencing both human and mouse genomes. He directs one of the largest programs in microbial genomics in the world, leading genome projects for bacteria, viruses, parasites, and insect vectors of disease, as well as research on the human microbiome.
In his ongoing role with the Diversity Initiative in Scientific Research, Birren oversees a number of programs dedicated to developing a new generation of leaders from under-represented minorities in genomics-related fields, and actively recruits, trains, and serves as mentor to the program participants. He also serves on the Advisory Board to MIT’s Office of Engineering Outreach Programs.
Birren joined the Whitehead Institute/MIT Center for Genome Research, now part of the Broad Institute, in 1994, as an early member of the human genome sequencing team that pioneered high-throughput methods for large-scale sequencing.
Birren is the author of more than 150 papers on mapping, sequencing, and genome analysis. He authored a laboratory manual on pulsed-field gel electrophoresis, a technique used to separate large molecules of DNA. He also co-edited a four-volume laboratory manual from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press on genome analysis.
Birren received his Ph.D. in molecular biology from the University of California, Los Angeles, and completed postdoctoral training at the California Institute of Technology.