John Cairns on Animal Viruses Research
  John Cairns     Biography    
Recorded: 14 Jul 2000

Anyway—during the eight years we were in Canberra, [I was conducting] animal virus research, and we were working on animal viruses [and] influenza. I happen to discuss what I was working on, but still I’m discussing what the family life was. I’d been working on influenza virus and vaccinia virus and so on. This was about the time that people started to look at the multiplication of` animal viruses in caltric cells and this was not a technology that was being used in Australia. So a grant was obtained from the Rockefeller Foundation for me to spend four months at Caltech to learn about cell cultivation.

John Cairns, physician and molecular biologist, received his degree in medicine from Oxford University in 1946. Cairns worked as a virologist at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne, at the Virus Research Institute in Entrebbe, Uganda and at the Curtain School of Medical Research in Canberra.

From 1960-61, Cairns spent his sabbatical at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory under Alfred Hershey. He returned to serve as director of the Lab from 1963-1968, while continuing his research on DNA replication and initiating the technique autoradiography. During Cairns’s tenure, he saw Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory officially form from an amalgamation of the Long Island Biological Association’s Biological Laboratory and the Carnegie Institution of Washington’s Department of Genetics. Cairns remained a staff member until 1972 when he was appointed head of the Mill Hill Laboratory of the Imperial Cancer Research Fund. Cairns subsequently worked at the Harvard School of Public Health until his retirement in 1991.

In addition to Cairns’s scientific endevours, he is also one of the editors of Phage and the Origins of Molecular Biology.