Maynard Olson graduated from Caltech with a Bachelor1s degree in chemistry and received his PhD in inorganic chemistry from Stanford University in 1970, where his thesis advisor was Henry Taube. After five years on the faculty of the Department of Chemistry at Dartmouth College, he changed his research emphasis to molecular genetics, working with Benjamin Hall in the Department of Genetics at the University of Washington. During that period, in the late 19701s, he participated in early applications of recombinant-DNA techniques to problems in yeast genetics; his research with Hall included the first sequencing of a mutant eukaryotic gene and one of the first applications of restriction-fragment length polymorphisms.
In 1979, he moved to the Department of Genetics at Washington University in St. Louis, where he became a Professor of Genetics in 1986 and an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in 1989. At Washington University, he participated in the development of systematic approaches to the analysis of complex genomes, working both on the yeast and human genomes. This research included the development of new implementations of pulsed-field gel electrophoresis, including field-inversion gel electrophoresis, determination of the first complete electrophoretic karyotype of a eukaryotic organism, the development of computer-based methods for the construction of whole-genome physical maps based on clone fingerprints, the development of the yeast-artifi-cial- chromosome cloning system, and introduction of STS-content mapping as an approach to the low-resolution physical mapping of mammalian genomes. In 1992, he was awarded the Genetics Society of America Medal. Later that year, he moved back to the University of Washington where he is now Professor of Medicine and Genetics and Director of the University of Washington Genome Center. In 1994, he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences.
Dr. Olson has also participated in the formulation of policy for the Human Genome Project. In 1987, he served on the National Research Council Committee on Mapping and Sequencing of the Human Genome, and from 1989 to 1992, he was a member of the Program Advisory Committee on the Human Genome at the National Institutes of Health. Presently, he is on the National Human Genome Research Institute Council. Professor of Medicine and Genetics, Director of University of Washington Genome Center, USA