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Dr. Jonathan Rothberg described Gese Chaser, the 180-foot shadow vessel of the Amels superyacht Gene Machine, as the “Holiday Inn Express.” It is an accurate way to describe a boat that’s not meant to impress guests, flaunt wealth, or serve as an extravagant holiday home but to strictly mean business and innovation. He could have ideally called it a floating science lab, as it is an out-and-out science ship intended to be used as a working research laboratory to support the scientific research of its owner, Dr. Jonathan Rothberg.

It’s not all work on the Gene Chaser, as the vessel comes with a variety of water toys. Source – Screengrab / Youtube

The stealthy-gray, Damen-built support yacht was born out of necessity and urgency. When the pandemic hit in 2020, Rothberg and his scientists spent most of the year aboard the Gene Machine yacht developing an at-home, low-cost coronavirus testing kit. By the end of 2020, the man on a mission to save the planet had bought Gene Chaser to support his scientific endeavors and had it undergo a complete overhaul to accommodate laboratories and hubs for ongoing projects.

Gene Chaser enabled the man who founded eight key tech companies to continue the work done on land and offshore aboard Gene Machine without interruption. Let’s take a closer look at the vessel that combines wealth, purpose, and innovation like no other.

Via Charterworld

Chasing Dreams Aboard the Gene Chaser-

While most superyachts accommodate affluent tycoons and their VIP guests, Gene Chaser was built with an entirely different scenario in mind, replacing entertainment with innovation. Gene Chaser was made to host visiting scientists and academics. “We had a contest to name the boat,” said Rothberg. “I wanted to call it Gene Lab, because it would be a laboratory, but Hunter (Hopkins, a member of the crew) came up with the name Gene Chaser. Everybody voted, and that won. It made sense because, one, these are traditionally known as chase boats and two, we are literally chasing genes that can solve the world’s toughest problems.”

One of the laboratories onboard the Gene Chaser.

The boat is outfitted with two laboratories created in what was the former main deck lounge. While one is indoors, the other has been converted into an open-air laboratory in an open hangar. Several areas of the yacht are operated as conference rooms and for educational purposes.

The deck of Gene Chaser. Via Youtube / @NautiStyles

The crew areas accommodate four full-time scientists and have space to sleep eight visiting experts. Her expansive rear deck offers space to land a helicopter, carry a fleet of tenders and toys, and stow a converted shipping container full of ATVs and motorbikes. Gene Chaser boasts a 13-ton-capacity crane used to deploy the yacht’s Fjord 42 tender, 28-foot OXpro AL8 landing craft, 20-foot Zodiac RIB, and a fleet of jet skis on the deck.

The vessel also boasts professional landing crafts and research equipment. While she may be a boat dedicated to science, she is far from boring. There is a hot tub for relaxation, inflatable yacht toys, and an additional sheltered lounge on the foredeck to enjoy views in some of the remotest corners of the world.

The engine room of Gene Chaser. Via Youtube / @NautiStyles

Speed is another one of Gene Chaser’s fortes. What good is a chaser without that attribute anyway? With four Caterpillar diesels providing an impressive 5,600 horsepower, the yacht flaunts a top speed of 26 mph. “This is really a speedboat,” stated Captain O’Neill. “We had it at 40 kilometers an hour, and because of the bow, instead of pitching, it just cut right through, and it was amazing. The 42 Fjord was barely able to keep up with it once we were over a one-meter sea.”

Via Twitter / @JM Rothberg

People of Science Love the Gene Chaser Yacht-

Molecular life scientist Antoine Van Oijen wrote on Twitter, “Doing research in a fully equipped lab on a yacht, while visiting some of the world’s prettiest places – who wouldn’t want a piece of that!? A great opportunity – I’ve spent time on the Gene Chaser and loved every second of it.” AI enthusiast John Tan Chong Min wrote in a post, “Had a great time onboard the @GeneChaser for the #LLMsForBio hackathon organized by @4Catalyzer! This is my first time onboard such a big yacht, and it comes equipped with research facilities, too! Here’s a photo of my team with @JMRothberg.”

Dr Jonathan’s daughters onboard the Gene Chaser. Via Twitter / @JM Rothberg

Dr. Jonathan Rothberg’s goal to “feed, fuel, and heal the world” is certainly a reality with his two superyachts, Gene Machine and Gene Chaser. The scientist known for his contributions to genomics and DNA sequencing, along with his family, is working toward this goal tirelessly. Even his kids are learning the ropes of the trade by scoring paid internships aboard Gene Chaser, working in the wet lab, or honing coding skills.

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