Geneticists

Geneticists study genes, heredity, and hereditary transmission. They conduct research on inheritance of genes and how certain characteristics are passed on from one generation to another. They study the origin and transmission of specific inherited traits such as colour of eyes, colour and texture of hair, height, diseases resistance, hereditary diseases, etc. Geneticists need to posses a solid background in sciences like biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics. Their work has application in a variety of fields like academics, medicine, research, agriculture, crime, and industries. Geneticists working in the medical field diagnose hereditary conditions in patients and help them in disease management. They calculate the genetic risk of faulty genes being passed on to potential offsprings, study congenital malformations and conduct mutation analysis. Genetic counselors provide information and advice to families that struggle with hereditary diseases. Agricultural geneticists help in the development of newer varieties of crops that have certain desired characteristics like bigger size of fruits, more nutritive value, seedless fruits, etc. and are more disease resistant than traditional crops. Genetics also has applications in the field of research and development, and university teaching. Read on to discover the life and works of famous geneticists from all over the world through a splendid collection of biographies, timelines and trivia.
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 1 
James Watson
(Molecular Biologist Who Co-discovered the Double Helix Structure of DNA With Francis Crick)

James Watson
14
Birthdate: April 6, 1928
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States

James Watson is a geneticist, molecular biologist, and zoologist. He is credited with co-authoring the academic paper that propounded the double helix structure of nucleic acids such as DNA for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1962. In 1977, he was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 1997, he was awarded the National Medal of Science.

 2 
Nettie Stevens
(Geneticist)

Nettie Stevens
4
Birthdate: July 7, 1861
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Cavendish, Vermont, United States
Died: May 4, 1912

Nettie Stevens was an American geneticist. She is credited with discovering sex chromosomes which later came to be known as the X and Y chromosomes. In 1994, Nettie Stevens was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame.

 3 

Barbara McClintock
8
Birthdate: June 16, 1902
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Hartford, Connecticut, United States
Died: September 2, 1992

Barbara McClintock was a scientist and cytogeneticist who received the 1983 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. She earned her Ph.D. in botany from Cornell University and began her lifelong work in the development of maize cytogenetics. She eventually gained recognition as among the best in the field and was honored with several prestigious awards.  

 4 
J.B.S. Haldane
(Scientist)

J.B.S. Haldane
4
Birthdate: November 5, 1892
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Oxford, England
Died: December 1, 1964

British geneticist J.B.S. Haldane is remembered for his pioneering use of statistics in biology. A proponent of neo-Darwinism, he was the son of physiologist John Scott Haldane and had begun assisting his father at age 8. He later joined the British Communist Party and also moved to India.

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 5 
Francis Collins
(Geneticist)

Francis Collins
6
Birthdate: April 14, 1950
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Staunton, Virginia, U.S.

American physician-geneticist Francis Collins is known for his discovery of the genes related with several diseases and for leading the Human Genome Project while serving as director of NHGRI. Recipient of Presidential Medal of Freedom and the National Medal of Science, Collins wrote the New York Times bestseller The Language of God and presently serves as director of the NIH.

 6 
Thomas Hunt Morgan
(Geneticist)

Thomas Hunt Morgan
4
Birthdate: September 25, 1866
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Lexington
Died: December 4, 1945

Thomas Hunt Morgan was an evolutionary biologist, geneticist, and embryologist. He won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1933. He worked extensively on the role that the chromosome plays in heredity and demonstrated that genes are carried on chromosomes. In his later career, he established the division of biology at the California Institute of Technology. 

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 7 
Anne McLaren
(Geneticist)

Anne McLaren
4
Birthdate: April 26, 1927
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: London, England
Died: July 7, 2007

Geneticist Anne McLaren is remembered for her pioneering research in embryology that paved the way for further research in fertility treatments such as in-vitro fertilization. The Royal Society fellow had also appeared as a child actor in the film adaptation of the H.G. Wells novel Things to Come.

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 8 
Luther Burbank
(Horticulturist, Geneticist, Botanist, Gardener, Academic, Non-fiction writer)

Luther Burbank
4
Birthdate: March 7, 1849
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Santa Rosa
Died: April 11, 1926

Luther Burbank was an American horticulturist and botanist. A pioneer in agricultural science, Luther Burbank developed over 800 varieties of plants and strains in an illustrious career that spanned 55 years. He is also credited with developing a spineless cactus that served as cattle feed. In 1986, Luther Burbank was made an inductee of the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

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 9 
George R. Price
(Mathematician, Geneticist)

George R. Price
3
Birthdate: October 6, 1922
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: United States of America
Died: January 6, 1975

Best known for his theory of Price Equation, American population geneticist, George R. Price, worked as a chemist for more than two decades before shifting to theoretical biology. On reading W.D. Hamilton's paper on kin selection, he eventually started working on it, in the process devising what is today known as Price Equation and also introducing the evolutionarily stable strategy.

 10 
Ronald Fisher
(Statistician)

Ronald Fisher
4
Birthdate: February 17, 1890
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: East Finchley, London, England
Died: July 29, 1962

Ronald Fisher was a British polymath, statistician, geneticist, mathematician, and academic. He is credited to have single-handedly created the foundations for modern statistical science. He made important contributions to the field of genetics and is known as one of the three principal founders of population genetics. He was elected to the Royal Society in 1929. 

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 11 
M. S. Swaminathan
(Agricultural Scientist)

M. S. Swaminathan
12
Birthdate: August 7, 1925
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Kumbakonam, India

Ramon Magsaysay Award-winning geneticist M. S. Swaminathan is best known for his contribution to the Indian Green Revolution. Featured on Time, he introduced high-yielding varieties of wheat and rice seedlings to Indian farmers. He is also known for his administrative work as part of the Indian civil services.

 12 
Oswald Avery
(Biologist, Physician, Geneticist)

Oswald Avery
4
Birthdate: October 21, 1877
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Halifax
Died: February 20, 1955

A pioneer of molecular biology, Oswald Avery revolutionized science with his research on the chemical processes involved in immunology. The Canadian-American bacteriologist initially aspired to be a musician. He later proved that DNA was the basis of heredity. Though nominated for the Nobel Prize multiple times, he never won it.

 13 

Theodosius Dobzhansky
3
Birthdate: January 24, 1900
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Nemyriv, Ukraine
Died: December 18, 1975

Theodosius Dobzhansky was a Ukrainian-American geneticist and evolutionary biologist. He played a key role in shaping modern synthesis in the field of evolutionary biology.  His 1937 book, Genetics and the Origin of Species, is a seminal work on modern synthesis. He was the recipient of several awards, including the US National Medal of Science and the Franklin Medal.  

 14 
Joshua Lederberg
(Geneticist)

Joshua Lederberg
3
Birthdate: May 23, 1925
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Montclair, New Jersey, United States
Died: February 2, 2008

Joshua Lederberg was an American molecular biologist best remembered for his work in the field of artificial intelligence, microbial genetics, and the US space program. In 1958, Lederberg won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine when he was just 33; he won the prize for discovering bacterial conjugation. In 2006, he was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

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 15 
Nikolai Vavilov
(Former agronomist, botanist and geneticist best known for having identified the centers of origin of cultivated plants)

Nikolai Vavilov
4
Birthdate: November 25, 1887
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
Died: January 26, 1943

 16 
Hugo de Vries
(Botanist, Biologist, Geneticist, University teacher)

Hugo de Vries
3
Birthdate: February 16, 1848
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Haarlem
Died: May 21, 1935
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 17 

Hermann Joseph Muller
3
Birthdate: December 21, 1890
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States
Died: April 4, 1967

Nobel Prize-winning German geneticist Hermann Joseph Muller is best remembered for his work on mutation and the effects of radiation on genes. His contributions include his book The Mechanism of Mendelian Heredity, which is a classic text in the subject. He was named the 1963 Humanist of the Year.

 18 
John Maynard Smith
(Mathematician)

John Maynard Smith
3
Birthdate: February 6, 1920
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: London, England
Died: April 19, 2004

One of the most influential evolutionary biologists of his generation, John Maynard Smith was originally aeronautical engineer. Later, he took a second degree in genetics and did extensive research on subjects like population genetics and evolution of sex. Known for formalizing the central concept in evolutionary game theory, he introduced the evolutionarily stable strategy, impacting a wide variety of studies.  

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 19 
Mario Capecchi
(Molecular Geneticist)

Mario Capecchi
3
Birthdate: October 6, 1937
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Verona, Italy

Mario Capecchi is a molecular geneticist who received the 2007 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine along with Oliver Smithies and Martin Evans. They received the prize for discovering a method to create a knockout mouse, a genetically modified mouse in which a certain gene is turned off for experimental purposes. In 2001, Capecchi received the National Medal of Science.

 20 
Massimo Pigliucci
(Biologist, Philosopher, Geneticist, Writer, University teacher)

Massimo Pigliucci
3
Birthdate: January 16, 1964
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Monrovia

Massimo Pigliucci is an academician currently serving as a professor of philosophy at the City College of New York. A staunch critic of pseudoscience and creationism, he advocates for secularism and science education. He was once the co-host of the Rationally Speaking Podcast. He often writes on topics, such as climate change denial, pseudoscience, intelligent design, and philosophy. 

 21 
Carol W. Greider
(Biologist, Molecular biologist, Geneticist, Physician)

Carol W. Greider
3
Birthdate: April 15, 1961
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Davis

Carol W. Greider is a molecular biologist who discovered the enzyme telomerase in 1984. Her discovery was honored several years later when she received the 2009 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, along with Blackburn and Jack W. Szostak for their work on telomeres.  The trio also shared the Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research for the same work.  

 22 
Jeffrey C. Hall
(Geneticist)

Jeffrey C. Hall
3
Birthdate: May 3, 1945
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States

Jeffrey C. Hall is an American chronobiologist and geneticist, currently serving as Brandeis University's Professor Emeritus of Biology. He is credited with conducting extensive research on the behavior and neurology of Drosophila melanogaster (fruit fly), which revealed certain mechanisms of the circadian clocks. He received the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine along with Michael Rosbash and Michael Young.

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 23 
Eric Topol
(Cardiologist, Geneticist)

Eric Topol
0
Birthdate: June 26, 1954
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Queens, New York, United States

Renowned American cardiologist Eric Topol is the founder-director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute. He is known for his pathbreaking research on genes that can be targeted for the prevention of heart diseases. He was also one of the first to question the safety factor of the medicine Vioxx.

 24 
August Weismann
(Biologist, Zoologist, Geneticist)

August Weismann
3
Birthdate: January 17, 1834
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Frankfurt
Died: November 5, 1914

 25 
Jack W. Szostak
(Geneticist - Winner of the 2009 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine)

Jack W. Szostak
3
Birthdate: November 9, 1952
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: London, England

Nobel Prize-winning Canadian-American biochemist and geneticist Jack W. Szostak revolutionized medical science with his research on the manipulation of genes. The Cornell alumnus is credited with creating the first yeast artificial chromosome. He has also taught at the Harvard Medical School. In spite of being Polish, he doesn’t speak the language.

 26 
Sewall Wright
(Geneticist)

Sewall Wright
3
Birthdate: December 21, 1889
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Melrose, Massachusetts, United States
Died: March 3, 1988
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 27 
Susumu Tonegawa
(Immunologist, Molecular Biologist)

Susumu Tonegawa
3
Birthdate: September 5, 1939
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Nagoya, Aichi, Japan

Susumu Tonegawa is a Japanese scientist known for his discovery of the genetic mechanism that produces antibody diversity. For this work, he received the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1987. Even though he won the coveted award for his work in immunology, he is a molecular biologist by training. He now studies neuroscience. 

 28 
Michael Rosbash
(Geneticist)

Michael Rosbash
3
Birthdate: March 7, 1944
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Kansas City, Missouri

Michael Rosbash is an American chronobiologist and geneticist, currently serving as a researcher and professor at Brandeis University. In 2017, he received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine along with Jeffrey C. Hall and Michael W. Young for their discoveries of the controlling mechanisms of the circadian cycle. Rosbash has also received many other awards like the Massry Prize.

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 29 
Ian Wilmut
(Biologist)

Ian Wilmut
3
Birthdate: July 7, 1944
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Hampton Lucy, England

British biologist Ian Wilmut revolutionized embryology by leading the team of researchers who successfully created the first cloned mammal, the sheep named Dolly. A leading proponent of cryopreservation, he also implanted the first calf embryo, Frostie, in a surrogate cow. He was later knighted for his achievements.

 30 
Michael W. Young
(Biologist)

Michael W. Young
3
Birthdate: March 28, 1949
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Miami, Florida, United States

Michael W. Young is a biologist and geneticist. He has spent several years studying genetically controlled patterns of sleep and wakefulness within the fly species Drosophila melanogaster. Along with Jeffrey C. Hall and Michael Rosbash, he was awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. His wife, Laurel Eckhardt, is also a biologist and the couple often collaborates professionally. 

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 31 
Cyril Burt
(Psychologist)

Cyril Burt
3
Birthdate: March 3, 1883
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Westminster, London, England
Died: October 10, 1971

Cyril Burt was an English geneticist and educational psychologist who also made immense contributions to statistics. A prolific writer, Cyril Burt published several books and articles on topics ranging from psychometrics to parapsychology over the course of his career.

 32 
Marshall W. Nirenberg
(Biochemist and Geneticist)

Marshall W. Nirenberg
3
Birthdate: April 10, 1927
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York City, New York, United States
Died: January 15, 2010

American biochemist and Nobel laureate Marshall W. Nirenberg is best known for his research on solving the genetic code. The son of a Jewish shirtmaker father, Nirenberg showed an early interest in biology. He led the National Heart Institute’s genetics department and was associated with the National Institutes of Health.

 33 
Svante Pääbo
(As one of the founder of paleogenetics, he has worked extensively on the neanderthal genome)

Svante Pääbo
3
Birthdate: April 20, 1955
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Stockholm, Sweden

 34 
Philip Allen Sharp
(Geneticist)

Philip Allen Sharp
3
Birthdate: June 6, 1944
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Falmouth, Kentucky, United States

Philip Allen Sharp is an American molecular biologist and geneticist best known for co-discovering RNA splicing. In 1993, he received the prestigious Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine along with Sir Richard John Roberts. Philip Allen Sharp has also won several other awards, such as the National Medal of Science, the Benjamin Franklin Medal, and the Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize. 

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 35 
Teresa Lambe
(Scientist)

Teresa Lambe
3
Birthdate: 0000 AD
Birthplace: Unknown

Irish scientist Teresa Lambe, who works as an associate professor with Oxford’s Jenner Institute, made headlines when she co-developed the Oxford–AstraZeneca vaccine for COVID-19. She has also worked on vaccines for viruses such as Nipah and Ebola. She was later awarded an OBE for her achievements.

 36 

Otmar Freiherr von Verschuer
3
Birthdate: July 16, 1896
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Wildeck, Germany
Died: August 8, 1969

German biologist and eugenicist Otmar Freiherr von Verschuer was an advocate of racial hygiene and the mandatory sterilization of the physically and mentally disabled. He also led the Nazi experiments on twins based on body parts made available to him from the inmates of various concentration camps.

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 37 
Francisco J. Ayala
(Biologist, Geneticist, Philosopher, University teacher)

Francisco J. Ayala
3
Birthdate: March 12, 1934
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Madrid

Francisco J. Ayala is a Spanish-born American evolutionary geneticist and molecular biologist, best known for his investigation on the process of genetic variation and natural selection at molecular level. He also undertook research on public health, providing new ideas on the prevention and treatment of diseases and expounded how Darwin’s theory of evolution is well-matched to religious theory of creation.  

 38 
Alfred Day Hershey
(Bacteriologist)

Alfred Day Hershey
2
Birthdate: December 4, 1908
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Owosso, Michigan, United States
Died: May 22, 1997

Nobel Prize-winning biologist Alfred Day Hershey is best remembered for his research on bacteriophages, or viruses that infect bacteria. He was associated with the Washington University throughout most of his life. He is also known for his blender experiment, which he conducted with his work partner Martha Chase.

 39 
Reginald Punnett
(Geneticist)

Reginald Punnett
3
Birthdate: June 20, 1875
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Tonbridge, England
Died: January 3, 1967

Reginald Punnett was a British geneticist who is credited with creating the Punnett square, which is used by biologists even today to evaluate the probability of genotypes of offspring. He is also credited with co-founding the Journal of Genetics alongside William Bateson in 1910. Reginald Punnett’s book Mendelism is considered by some to be the first textbook on genetics.

 40 

Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza
2
Birthdate: January 25, 1922
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Genoa, Italy
Died: August 31, 2018

 41 
Howard Martin Temin
(Geneticist and Virologist)

Howard Martin Temin
2
Birthdate: December 10, 1934
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: February 9, 1994

Virologist Howard Martin Temin won his Nobel Prize for co-discovering the enzyme reverse transcriptase. His initial research was in the area of animal cancers, as he was also a PhD in animal virology from Caltech. He spent almost his entire academic career teaching at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  

 42 
C.H. Waddington
(Developmental Biologist)

C.H. Waddington
2
Birthdate: November 8, 1905
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Evesham, England
Died: September 26, 1975

British embryologist C.H. Waddington had studied paleontology before turning to biology. A professor of zoology and embryology, he later also taught animal genetics. His interests also included poetry, painting, and Marxism. He introduced concepts such as epigenetic landscape and genetic assimilation, and penned books such as Principles of Embryology.

 43 
Spencer Wells
(Geneticist)

Spencer Wells
2
Birthdate: April 6, 1969
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Marietta

Renowned population geneticist Spencer Wells is best known for his study of human diversity. His analysis has led him to believe that all humans have descended from a single man from Africa, the Y-chromosomal Adam, who lived around 60,000-90,000 years back. He has also headed National Geographic’s Genographic Project.

 44 

Baruch Samuel Blumberg
2
Birthdate: July 28, 1925
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, United States
Died: April 5, 2011

Nobel Prize-winning physician Baruch Samuel Blumberg is best remembered for his research on the antigen-antibody reaction. His study of an antibody response against hepatitis B helped later scientists develop a vaccine for the disease. He died soon after delivering a speech at the NASA Ames Research Center.

 45 
Andrew Fire
(Biologist)

Andrew Fire
2
Birthdate: April 27, 1959
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Palo Alto, California, United States

Geneticist Andrew Fire is best known for his Nobel Prize-winning work on the double-stranded RNA. The MIT alumnus did most of his research under the guidance of Nobel laureate Philip A. Sharp. His discovery of the RNAi later aided scientists work on the cure for ailments such as AIDS and cancer.

 46 
Seymour Benzer
(Physicist)

Seymour Benzer
2
Birthdate: October 15, 1921
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Bensonhurst, New York, United States
Died: November 30, 2007

Born to Polish Jew parents in the Bronx, Seymour Benzer would often cut open frogs in childhood. The molecular biologist is best known for his research on viral genes and for coining the term cistron. A Caltech professor, he was also made a Fellow of the Royal Society.

 47 
Joseph L. Goldstein
(Molecular Geneticist)

Joseph L. Goldstein
2
Birthdate: April 18, 1940
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Kingstree, South Carolina, United States

American molecular geneticist Joseph L. Goldstein was born to clothing store owner parents in South Carolina. He ended up winning a Nobel Prize for his research on cholesterol metabolism, which later helped researchers develop statin drugs. He currently chairs the molecular genetics department of the University of Texas.

 48 
Bruce Beutler
(Immunologist)

Bruce Beutler
2
Birthdate: December 29, 1957
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States

Immunologist Bruce Beutler is best known for his Nobel Prize-winning research on the innate immune system of the human body. The son of a scientist and physician, he was a child prodigy and graduated at age 18. He grew up to be associated with institutes such as the Scripps Research Institute.

 49 
Matthew Meselson
(Geneticist)

Matthew Meselson
2
Birthdate: May 24, 1930
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Denver, Colorado, United States

Molecular biologist and geneticist Matthew Meselson is best known for his research on the Watson-Crick theory and the replication of DNA. The Harvard professor has received accolades such as the Guggenheim Fellowship and honorary degrees from eight universities, including Princeton and Yale. He has also been a CIA consultant.

 50 
Mathilde Krim
(Geneticist, Physician)

Mathilde Krim
2
Birthdate: July 9, 1926
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Como

Mathilde Krim was an Israeli medical researcher best known for her association with amfAR, an international nonprofit organization that aims at supporting AIDS research; she was the founding chairman of the organization. For her immense contribution to the field of AIDS research, Mathilde Krim was honored with the prestigious Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2000.