Recorded: 09 Apr 2001
I went to Harvard in 1968. I joined Jim’s lab in 1970. Jim was not my Ph.D. advisor, officially, because Jim had gone to Cold Spring Harbor. So Jim officially was my Masters advisor, that had to do with the draft and the Ph.D. [I finished] as Wally Gilbert’s student, but the project I did in the lab was one that Jim had defined, as in the early days. So my Ph.D. was 1974; I spent the summer of 1974 at the Cold Spring Harbor Labs, that means the first time I was at the lab was 1970, for the transcription meeting, and I’ve basically been there many, many times since. They told me at the last symposium that I had been at more symposia than any other or tied with one other person. I don’t remember. You’ll have to check the record, but I have been at a lot of Cold Spring Harbor meetings, phage meetings, worm meetings. I also have been at several Cold Spring Harbor Symposia as you can see lining the shelves, up there.
H. Robert Horvitz received his Ph.D. in 1974 from Harvard University, under the tutelage of Jim Watson. He joined the MIT Department of Biology faculty in 1978, and was named David Koch Professor of Biology in 2000. He is also Investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and was appointed Investigator at the McGovern Institute in 2001.
Horvitz is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and a recipient of the Gairdner Foundation International Award, the Alfred P. Sloan, Jr. Prize from the General Motors Cancer Research Foundation and the Bristol-Myers Squibb Award for Distinguished Achievement in Neuroscience. In 2002, he was award the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine with Sydney Brenner and John Sulston “for their discoveries concerning 'genetic regulation of organ development and programmed cell death'."
Horvitz currently studies how genes control the development of the nervous system and how the nervous system controls behavior. He has elucidated a molecular genetic pathway for programmed cell death (apoptosis), which is fundamental to nervous system development in all animals.