Jim Hicks on Establishing the Yeast Group at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
  Jim Hicks     Biography    
Recorded: 08 Aug 2001

In the ’77 meting Amar [Klar] came and he had very interesting results on mating type so instead of it just being Ira’s lab in 1975 there were more things to talk about in 1977. Once again it was Ray Gesteland that suggested that we could do more. The questions of who said what to whom is complicated because I only know who said what to me at different times. Well Jim [Watson] was involved in the background. This actually led to a bit of a conflict between Jim and myself because as far as I was concerned I had suggested to Ray that we come to Cold Spring Harbor. Or that Ray had suggested it to me and I had said, “Okay that would be great if we can do it. We’ll write a grant.” I’d never talked to Jim. But behind the scenes Ray had talked to Jim and said that he was lining up these people to come, but I didn’t know that at the time. As far as I was concerned I was just being a lone wolf doing this and then getting Jeff. I called Jeff and suggested it and he said he really needed to do a legitimate post doc because if he didn’t his career would be stunted by staying in the same field with the same people. So he wanted to do a post doc in actually in worms, probably, or flies and Ray made it tempting. He applied for a named postdoctoral fellowship and got a Howard Hughes fellowship, so that meant that he had gotten a post doc on his own which was important for his career. Cause we didn’t how long we were talking about doing this for one year and then moving on. That was all. That was all we were planning to do. We knew we had the mating type question ready to be solved and now there was recombinant DNA just coming on and so it was time to do it and we thought we could just do it in a year. As a matter of fact the first part of getting the mating types loci clone was really only a couple of years. It wasn’t very long.

James Hicks is a pioneer in the field of yeast genetics. He earned his Ph.D. degree in molecular biology and genetics from the University of Oregon, working with Ira Herskowitz.

Hicks researched with Jeff Strathern and Amar Klar in the Cold Spring Harbor Yeast group from 1977 to 1984 where they made outstanding discoveries about the mechanism of mating type switching in yeast.

Hicks is the co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of ViroGenomics, a Portland biotech company that is searching for new treatments for chronic and acute viral disease.