The Harvard Origins of Life Initiative was established in response to a January 2004 University-wide “call for ideas” by the Task Force on Science and Technology. With goals including encouragement of cross-faculty collaboration and creation of educational opportunities for Harvard undergraduate and graduate students, the Task Force was responsible for “identifying needs and opportunities in scientific research at Harvard.” To their astonishment, of the 70 proposals submitted, the Task Force received separate proposals on the origin of life problem from two different groups of Harvard scientists. Ultimately joining forces, this interdisciplinary group of scientists represented five distinct areas: earth and planetary sciences, organismic and evolutionary biology, molecular biology, chemistry, and astronomy. Thanks to advances in technologies in these areas, answers to some of the compelling questions surrounding the origins of life in the universe were now possibly within reach. Provost Hyman, co-chair of the Task Force, concluded his remarks at the Origins Initiative inaugural symposium on November 8, 2006, saying that he looked forward to “enormous new scientific knowledge, but also very important advances in our self-understanding” resulting from this cross-faculty, interdisciplinary collaboration. Today a larger team of researchers have joined this exciting biochemical “journey through the Universe” to unravel one of humankind’s most compelling mysteries – the origins of life in the Universe.

Historical News & Documents

Symposium Animates Origins of Life Initiative
Focus – News from Harvard Medical School, Dental and Public Health Schools
December 1, 2006

Origins of Life to theorize about universe
Harvard University Gazette
November 9, 2006

Report of the Harvard University Task Force on Science and Technology
April 2005

Inaugural Symposium Videos

Opening Remarks

Lecture 2

Lecture 4

Lecture 1

Lecture 3