Jerry Adams on Visits to CSHL
  Jerry Adams     Biography    
Recorded: 15 Jan 2003

I have been to Cold Spring Harbor a number of times over the years. I think that for the first time was for the 1966 symposium, The Genetic Code, a mind blowing occasion where all of a sudden for the first time the genetic code was revealed at the meeting. This stunning occasion, you know, the code of all living things to be suddenly found, to be determined. So it was a very exciting, very exciting day to be there to see all these great people, and see in a relaxed atmosphere and to be able to talk with them. Cold Spring Harbor was a much, shall we say, poorer place at the time. The accommodations were so like a Boy Scout camp at that time compared to later on. So in the—a lot of the laboratories were fairly run down, a run down look about them, but the meeting was absolutely top notch. And that I think has been true of all the Cold Spring Harbor symposia that I’ve seen over the years. And I know the other meetings there also very high standard. So it’s a wonderful gathering place for scientists and I think probably many great scientific ideas have probably been nurtured there just in those informal conversations on the lawn or down by the water.

Jerry Adams, currently Professor and Joint Head of Molecular Genetics of Cancer Division of The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, is noted for his achievements in molecular biology, immunology and the molecular genetics of cancer. After completing his BSc in Chemistry at Emory University in 1962, he completed his Ph.D. at Harvard under James Watson. During this time, Adams and Mario Capecchi discovered the initiation mechanism for polypeptides. Adams earned his degree in 1967 and went on to do post-doctoral work at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, England, where he met his wife, Suzanne Cory. They did further research in Geneva, and in 1972 joined The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Australia.

Adams and his research team have made many major contributions to medical science. They were the first to clone mammalian genes in Australia and discovered: (i) that antibody genes encode to recombine in a myriad of ways to fight infection; (ii) the genetic mutation that leads to Burkitt’s lymphoma and (iii) the connection between apoptosis and cancer, while studying bcl-2 gene in follicular lymphoma (with David Vaux).

Adams is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science (1986), a Fellow of the Royal Society of London (1992), a Fellow of the Royal Society of Victoria (1997) and a member of the National Academy of Sciences.