Recorded: 01 Mar 2003
At the time Al Hershey had a group of, I would say, six or seven researchers, all of them doing work on various aspects of phage chromatin structure and function. It was a marvelous group. And we were very, very close knit because most of the year we only had each other for companions and colleagues. Among the group was Gisela Mosig, who were studying T4, and Eddie Goldberg who was studying T4, that was in the beginning. Of course there was Betty Burgi who had been there for a long time with him and had done most of the Lambda work. And when I joined the group I began working on Lambda. So Betty and I and Al were kind of the focus of the Lambda work in the laboratory.
There was another colleague from New Zealand, Merv Smith, who came. And in the very beginning I shared a laboratory with Merv Smith. Together we worked on various aspects of phage Lambda and T-5 and discovered with those two phages a new form a DNA that was made during replication and that was cancatomeres. And that was the beginning of, I think, of our whole idea about different stages of replication and the origin of our version of the rolling circle model of replication.
Anna Marie Skalka, microbiologist, molecular biologist and geneticist is Senior Vice President for Basic Science and director of the Institute for Cancer Research at the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia. She completed her Ph.D. at New York University Medical School in 1964 and came to Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory to continue her graduate work on bacteriophage under Al Hershey. In 1969 she left for the Roche Institute for Molecular Biology and eventually she turned her attention to retroviruses.
At Fox Chase Medical Center, Skalka studies molecular aspects of retroviral replication and hopes to uncover mechanisms of retroviral DNA integration. She has become interested in virally coded integrase, which catalyzes the integration of retroviral DNA into the host cell’s genome. Considering that stable integration of viral DNA into the host cell genome is essential for replication of retroviruses, her studies are important in developing antiviral drugs to treat AIDS.