Tom Maniatis on Arriving at CSHL
  Tom Maniatis     Biography    
Recorded: 22 Mar 2003

When I came, I arrived on an evening that I think Klaus and Mary [Weber] were leaving. You know, they did a sabbatical, he was at Harvard and he did a sabbatical at Cold Spring Harbor but rather than coming back to Harvard he took a position or they, he and his wife both took a position in Germany.

And so I walked into this reception and actually saw Jim coming down the road and we went inside and we started talking. He seemed a bit nervous. And he told me that—I was told before I came that I was going to have space in James. And Jim came up to me and kind of in a nervous way told me that plans had changed and that I was instead going to be placed somewhere in Demerec. He wasn’t sure but somewhere in Demerec. And I later found, in fact just a few days later, discovered that the reason for that was that at that time Joe Sambrook was director, scientific director of the lab. And there was kind of a power struggle between Jim and Joe. And Jim had brought Klaus down under circumstances that were difficult and Joe wasn’t too happy about that. And so when Joe heard that Jim is bringing another Harvard guy down, he flipped out! And basically told Jim “There’s no way this guy…” I mean we’d never met before or anything else, but he said, “There’s no way this guy is going to be in James.”

So I was in Demerec and the problem is there was no space in Demerec. So I was put in the kitchen. There was a one room, it had a bench along one side and autoclaves and sinks on the other side. And so basically I just had half of this room. And I ended up ultimately having several people in that lab. So there was David Goldberg that I mentioned, one of my first graduate students. Gek Kee Sim and Liz Lacy, they were all graduate students from Harvard.

And then I had two visiting post docs from other labs: Dick Long who came from Colorado and Lydia Villa-Komaroff who came from Harvard. And I was working very actively in the lab. So there were six of us in this room. That’s really quite funny.

So it worked well. You know, I got a lot done. It was an exciting time.

Tom Maniatis, molecular biologist, is a leader in the field of recombinant DNA. At Vanderbilt University he completed his Ph.D. studying DNA wide-angle scattering. He became a postdoctoral fellow and professor at Harvard University and met Jim Watson just before he became director of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.

While Maniatis was beginning experimentation with cDNA cloning and gene regulation of higher cells, the controversy over recombinant DNA in Cambridge stunted his progression. Watson offered Maniatis a position at CSHL where he could work more efficiently to understand the methods of recombinant DNA. At CSHL, Maniatis completed full-length synthesis of double stranded DNA and actual cloning of cDNA.

He is currently a professor of molecular and cellular biology at Harvard University studying the mechanisms involved in the regulation of RNA transciption and pre-messenger RNA splicing. He studies transcription to understand how eukaryotic genes are activated by viral infection and extracellular signals.