Ulf Pettersson on Bruce Stillman
  Ulf Pettersson     Biography    
Recorded: 20 Aug 2003

Okay, I’ve known Bruce more or less since he came here the first time. I knew of him when he was in Australia. And the funny thing is that Bruce first decided to come to my lab as a postdoc, but he changed his mind when he had an offer to come to Cold Spring Harbor. And he came here essentially to work on the adenoviruses, or did work on adenoviruses. So we were involved in very similar type of studies for many years. And then he switched fields. Now his focus is on DNA replication using other systems brought our interests apart, but my picture of Bruce is that he is an outstanding scientist doing great things, first class science. I think—I’m very envious of a person who can be the director of a successful laboratory like Cold Spring Harbor and still do this great science. That’s, I think, fantastic. So he’s a very talented person. I think also the things that have happened here since Bruce got his new role in the lab; the neuroscience establishment and everything, I think, is fantastic. Again in that sense I think Jim also has been very unique. That things can be started without the director really knowing the field. I think no one was an expert in neurobiology here when it was started, so you could be like this extremely successful and probably one of the best neuroscience labs in the world and are now here, although when it started no one knew very much about the field. And I think Bruce has been involved in this very much and is an outstanding person. And I wish him the best of luck as a director. I think that the problem that I can foresee for the future is that if Jim leaves the lab, I think, Bruce is the best possible substitute, but sort of, Jim is iconic and unique. And I think it would be really difficult to fill all of the shoes completely. For instance, the amount of money that Jim has brought into the lab would be hard for anyone else to do. Because Jim is a very unique person, that he is not only known as the great scientist, but he has also managed to convince the world that he is what he is. In my country if I say that I know Jim Watson, just about everyone, even people in the street would know who Watson is. And I think that a complete replacement for him doesn’t exist clearly, but Bruce, I’m sure will do well.

Ulf Pettersson, geneticist and virologist, is the vice-president of the University of Upssala in Sweden, a professor of medical genetics, and a leader of a group on genetic disease in the Department of Genetics and Pathology. His scientific research is focused on finding genes linked with diseases such as multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.

After finishing his medical degree in Sweden and his thesis on adenovirus proteins, he came to Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. He worked as a postdoc alongside Joe Sambrook and Rich Roberts. He researched transcription and the methods by which to grow and extract adenovirus DNA and studied how to use restriction enzymes to map viral chromosomes. His work led to the understanding of how the chromosome is organized and how transcription takes place. In the 80’s he slowly altered his concentration from virology to genetics.

After leaving Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in 1973 he became a professor of microbiology at the University of Uppsala and then chairman of the Department of Medical Genetics. He was a member of the Human Genome Organisation (HUGO) (1992-1998), and is currently a member of both the Finnish Academy of Sciences and the Royal Academy of Sciences.