Gerald Rubin on Barbara McClintock
  Gerald Rubin     Biography    
Recorded: 30 May 2003

So Barbara was, you know, very quiet and a loner and we didn’t really talk that much. And I’ve already mentioned my one very profound conversation with her when she told me it was a mistake to go into molecular biology and I should become a naturalist because molecular biology was too competitive and it wasn’t any fun. And later in my career when I started working in drosophila and transposable elements because this was Barbara’s field, she was very interested in my—I used to come to Cold Spring Harbor for meetings. I would go see her in her basement lab, and tell her about what I was doing and she would tell me all these wonderful stories about what people were doing in the 1930s and 1940s and what the real phenomenology was. And what was going on out in the fields.

And it was really an experience for me because I came from—you know, I did my biology at MIT where the textbook for biology was Watson's "The Molecular Biology of the Gene". So I never had a biology course where they taught you, this is a flower and this is the bee, or tree or whatever, you know, parts of an animal. So all my biology is in molecular biology and so Barbara was sort of a naturalist, this person who just thought about things that are very non-molecular biology where there is this totally different perspective. But because I was working on transposable elements I would try and read her papers and talk to her. You know, and she was just an amazing person. And she was always again, you know, very nice and friendly and supportative. And telling me I shouldn’t waste my time doing teaching or administration. I should be just working in the lab, and why was I at a university.

Gerald Rubin is a geneticist, molecular and cell biologist. As Director of the Berkeley Drosophila Genome Project, he led the sequencing of the entire fruit fly genome. Currently, as Vice President and Director of the Janelia Farm Research Campus at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Ashburn, Virginia, his research focus is on developing the biological and computer tools that are capable of analyzing and displaying the vast amount of information available from the genomic DNA sequencing of the fruit fly. He uses these advanced techniques to decipher gene regulation and expression at a genome-wide level in Drosophila and determine the function of certain fruit fly genes.

Gerald Rubin is also a professor of Genetics and Development at the University of California, Berkeley. He came to Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory as an URP (Undergraduate Research Program) in the early 70’s working under Lionel Crawford and Ray Gesteland before moving to Cambridge to earn his Ph.D. in molecular biology. He did postdoctoral work at Stanford University School of Medicine and became an assistant professor of biological chemistry at Harvard Medical School prior to commencing his genetics professorship at Berkeley in 1983.

Gerald Rubin is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine. Among the awards he has received is the American Chemical Society Eli Lilly Award in biological chemistry.