Recorded: 01 Mar 2003
It was a very strange experience for me because I came from a research group in which the mentor was very outspoken, very aggressive, very controlling, to a place at Cold Spring Harbor where I was essentially on my own. Al was there to give advice if you needed it, but you were actually free to do whatever you thought you’d like to do. So it was in one sense refreshing and in another sense kind of scary in those days.
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.