Couple pledges $2.5 million to J. Craig Venter Institute in La Jolla

J. Robert Beyster and Betty J. Beyster have pledged $2.5 million to the J. Craig Venter Institute, currently under construction on the UC San Diego campus in La Jolla.

The donation will be used to support completion of the institute’s sustainable laboratory. In recognition of their gift, the third-floor, ocean-view conference room and terrace will be named the Bob and Betty Beyster Conference Room and the Bob and Betty Beyster Terrace.

“We are very grateful to Bob and Betty for this very generous gift to JCVI,” said the institute’s founder and chief executive officer, J. Craig Venter. “Their visionary support of our new sustainable building will enable our scientists to continue their groundbreaking research on a variety of genomic fronts.”

The Beyster Family has supported science programs at the institute since 2009 when they, along with matching funds from Life Technologies Foundation, sponsored a two-year leg of the Sorcerer II Global Ocean Sampling Expedition. This support from the Beyster family enabled sampling research of microbial life in the waters of the Baltic, Mediterranean, and Black Seas.

These are scientifically important because they are among the world’s largest seas isolated from the major oceans. To date more than 80 million new genes and protein families have been discovered as part of the Sorcerer II Expedition.

The Beyster’s have also supported J. Craig Venter Institute scientist Andy Allen and his Southern California Upwelling Sampling Project. Dr. Allen has conducted sampling expeditions along the Southern California coast to better understand the microbes living in these waters. Beyster participated in eight of the 11 sampling excursions that were conducted from his own boat, Solutions.

“Betty and I are pleased to make this contribution to the J. Craig Venter Institute and it is our hope that it will further the trailblazing research that this organization is doing, particularly in the area of microbial genomics in marine environments,” Bob Beyster said. “I am a great admirer of Craig Venter and his work, and I look forward to the completion of the Institute’s new building. It is going to be magnificent.”

The J. Craig Venter Institute is a nonprofit research institute in Rockville, Md. and San Diego dedicated to the advancement of the science of genomics; the understanding of its implications for society; and communication of those results to the scientific community, the public, and policymakers. The institute is home to approximately 200 scientists and staff with expertise in human and evolutionary biology, genetics, bioinformatics/informatics and information technology. For more information, visit

—Staff Reports