Rod Benson

About the Author

I was born in 1966 the year that England last won the football world cup. My father was a dentist and when I was a young child, my parents bought me a Ladybird book on the nine systems of the human body. It was this book that made me fall in love with science and, in particular, with biology.

When I was about 6 years old, my big sister took me to see the musical “Jesus Christ Superstar”. Although, this musical is not particularly theologically sound, in that it strips Jesus of his divinity, it does leave Jesus’ humanity intact. Jesus’ enigmatic character attracted me to Christianity as a young child — perhaps because I did not have a good relationship with my own father. I therefore became a Christian in childhood. For me science and faith always worked well together because theology and science are surprisingly similar activities. Both involve two complex data sets which, if you’re not an atheist, consist of the general and special revelation of God respectively. Both theologians are scientists develop doctrine and theory accordingly to try and make sense of these two data sets. Just as with science, doctrine also leads to strong theological paradigms. Sometimes these paradigms have not always properly captured the data from the special revelation. Therefore my scientific training has taught me as a Christian to always ask the important question: “am I defending a Biblical truth or am I defending my interpretation of a Biblical truth?”

Between 1985 and 1988 I attended the University of Sydney where I obtained a first class honours degree majoring in physiology and biochemistry. My final fourth year honours project was culturing chick motoneurons on rat Schwann cells derived either from ventral or dorsal root spinal neurons.

My first job was working at Westmead hospital where I learnt all about data management and relational databases and this started me off in computer programming which I have always enjoyed. In 1992 I came over to England for what I thought would be about 1 year but I in fact never returned. From 1993 until 1996 I completed a PhD looking at what causes the cell shrinking in apoptosis. I then went on to complete a series of postdocs at Manchester University which included a research fellowship from the Wellcome trust to explore my first biotech idea of developing a system that could detect protein changes in cells in real time using fluoresence microscopy. In 2003 I left the University and went to work for AstraZeneca in Alderley Edge.

It was while working at Alderley Edge that I was first introduced to the concept of Systems Biology; working with pioneers like Doug Lauffenburger and also High Content Analysis (automated fluorescence microscopy). In 2007 I took a redundancy package from AstraZeneca and a very generous equipment donation to start my own company with a friend and colleague Dr Gareth Griffiths. The company was called Imagen Biotech and its primary goal was to sell High Content Screening services back to large pharma. In 2013 we changed the remit and focus of the company to create a new personalized chemotherapy company called Imagen Therapeutics

I left Imagen after selling shares in 2017 and since then have been working on several projects including two books: one fiction The Wormwood Deceptions and the other a non-fiction book “The Blind Watch Wearers” which is a critique of New Atheism and the basis for the three God & Science lectures found on this website. I intend to publish The Blind Watch Wearers at a later date. Previously I was also involved in the Franchise Magical Maths which aims to make maths fun for primary school children by creating fun afterschool clubs with a mathematical theme. Likewise, my co-founder of Imagen, Gareth, also has a passion for educating children. As such he created two resources for educators: World of Teaching (a website that is great resource for teachers all over the world) and Learn In VR, a website dedicated to expanding Virtual Reality (VR) resources in education which of course will have a transformative effect on the way our children learn in the future.

Another hobby of mine is writing programs to aid workflows. The software item on the main menu contains several programs I have written to accomplish very common tasks, like helping organise digital photos. Others programs I wrote while I was actively engaged in scientific research. One program for example is a Word addin that adds basic molecular biology functionality to Microsoft Word so that one can open DNA sequence files and search them for restriction sites etc. This program even allows you to check a basic molecular cloning strategy.

I am married to Helen and have two daughters Grace and Rebekah. I also enjoy bike riding, swimming, playing guitar, music, skiing (although sadly haven’t skied in years) tennis and chess.

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