Maynard Olson on Bruce Stillman
  Maynard Olson     Biography    
Recorded: 01 Jun 2003

So Bruce [Stillman] is first and foremost a really outstanding scientist. He’s one of a handful of people that just stand for doing science well. And his own work has just been solid and creative over a long period of time. And I don’t really work in that field but I was always struck by how unlike a lot of the people, most of the people that do that kind of careful, mechanistic functional molecular biology he saw right away the, you know, the power of the genome and I remember back when we were, you know, doing this yeast physical mapping. I mean it was pitiful really compared to, you know, what we now would expect but he right away he wanted to use these filters that we were making to map his DNA replication genes. And always had a really major interest in how the genome was developing and still does. You know, he has that kind of breadth of view that you often don’t find combined with just very focused high quality relatively traditional science. That’s a powerful combination.

Maynard V. Olson received his Bachelor’s degree in chemistry from California Institute of Technology and Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry from Stanford University (1970). After five years on the chemistry faculty at Dartmouth College, he shifted his research efforts to molecular genetics at Washington University in St Louis and the University of Washington in Seattle. He now serves as Director of the University of Washington Human Genome Center, Professor of Genetics and Medicine, and Adjunct Professor of Computer Science & Engineering.

A pioneer in genomic research, Dr. Olson launched the ultimately successful effort to construct a detailed physical map of the yeast genome in 1979. He also led efforts to develop yeast artificial chromosomes (YACs) that allowed for the study of large portions of the human genome and proved invaluable in the tracking of disease-related genes, and he introduced STS-content mapping which led to the first physical maps of whole human chromosomes.

Dr. Olson is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and has been awarded the Genetics Society of America Medal, the City of Medicine Award, and the Gairdner Foundation International Award for his scientific contributions to the Human Genome Project.

Influenced by Watson’s book, Molecular Biology of the Gene, Olsen started working with the genome in the 1970’s. He met Jim Watson when they both served on Bruce Albert’s Committee of the National Research Council. Olsen also helped to organize several genome meetings at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory during the 1980s.