Recorded: 18 Aug 2003
Well, of course, when I was visiting here it was a much smaller place. And it was in the summer so they had quite a number of summer fellows around, high school and college students around. And these courses, I guess, might have had thirty, forty, fifty people taking them at a time. It was fairly primitive and rustic. That was part of the charm. And as I recall the full-time staff was pretty small back then.
Once I became a chairman of the department of medicine in 1965, and from then on I was less involved in hands on research. Much less free time to take a week or two in the summer and do that sort of thing. I tried to stay very much involved in research, but it was primarily focused on biochemical mechanisms of hereditary disease. So it had that genetic component to it, but not fundamentally genetics. And I didn’t continue the association with Cold Spring Harbor.
I remember when Jim moved here from Boston. I didn’t at that time know him at all well. But I certainly admire what’s happened in the thirty five years he’s been here.
James B. Wyngaarden is a medical doctor, biochemist and medical science advisor. He served as director of the National Institutes of Health, associate director for Life Sciences in the Office of Science and Technology Policy, Executive Office of the President, and as director of the Human Genome Organization. Wyngaarden is currently part of the Washington Advisory Group, LLC and director of four biotechnology/pharmaceutical companies. Wyngaarden is also co-author of the textbook The Metabolic Basis of Inherited Disease.
He researches the regulation of purine biosynthesis, the production of uric acid and he helped initiate the use of allopurinol, a drug developed as an anticancer agent and now used as a treatment for gout.
While serving as director of the National Institutes of Heath, he enlisted the help of Dr. Watson in 1988 to begin the Human Genome Project. Jim obliged and joined the NIH as the associate director for Human Genome Research, while still acting as director of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.