Biography 36: Stephen P. A. Fodor (1953- )
Steve Fodor was born in Seattle, Washington. His father was a physician and Fodor didn't plan on going to college because it was what people expected him to do. Instead he spent time working on a potato farm and indulging in one of his favorite pasttime - fly-fishing.
Fodor did finally go to college. He graduated from Washington State University with a B.S. in Biology. After this degree, he stayed at WSU and received a M.S. in Biochemistry. Fodor then went to Princeton and in 1985 received his Ph.D. in Chemistry. Throughout his undergraduate and graduate career, Fodor was known to have "hands." He was able to tweak techniques so that things worked.
Fodor did post-doctorate work at the University of California, Berkeley, and it was there in 1989 that he was recruited to Affymax Research Institute in Palo Alto. He was put in charge of developing a process to generate miniature high-density arrays of biological compounds. This led to the development of the first DNA GeneChipsÂ®, and the techniques to read and analyze these chips for large-scale genomic studies. The process has undergone a lot of refinement since the early days and the publication of the seminal paper Light-directed, Spatially Addressable Parallel Chemical Synthesis -- the first look at high-density microarray technology and combinatorial chemistry in the 1991 February issue of Science. He and his colleagues received the AAAS' 1992 Newcomb Cleveland Award for this work. Now the genomes of entire organisms like yeast are being put on a GeneChipsÂ® for analyses. The success of the GeneChipsÂ® also led Affymax to spin off another company, Affymetrix Inc., in 1993 to focus on GeneChipsÂ® production and analysis.
Fodor is currently Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Affymetrix Inc. He has won numerous awards for his work on and the development of GeneChipsÂ® including the 2002 Takeda Foundation Award, the 2002 Economist Innovation Award for Nanotechnology, and the 2002 Oxford Bioscience Award. Fodor also serves on the Board of Directors for Sunesis Pharmaceuticals, Inc., is Chairman of the Board for Perlegen, Inc., and serves on the Board of Trustees of the Carnegie Institute of Washington.